And now, the calm before the regular season storm.
The Nuggets took Wednesday off before getting back to work on Thursday in preparation for the season opener at division rival Utah on Oct. 18. The day off was much needed, coach Michael Malone said. He’d watched a large chunk of jump shots fall short in the Nuggets’ preseason loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, and he knew right away his athletes needed the extra rest.
“I told our guys I don’t want anybody in the gym,” Malone said. “These guys have been putting hours upon hours (of work in). And it’s a great thing, but sometimes you have to protect them from themselves. So that’s No. 1, get them some rest, get our guys healthy.”
Even though the preseason was shorter, Malone put the Nuggets through strenuous workouts. They responded well in practices, and that carried over completely in the first three games. But weary legs caught up to the Nuggets in the fourth quarters in exhibition losses to both San Antonio and Oklahoma City. A day to decompress was necessary.
Thursday was the first day back at it. Malone said implementing a game plan for the Utah game was still a few days off, however. The Nuggets started focusing on fixing their issues with Thursday’s session.
“We have to clean up us first,” Malone said. “And then we have so many days that we can worry about us, then turn the page and start getting ready for Utah and what they do on both ends of the floor.”
Faried kudos. On media day, forward Kenneth Faried promised that no matter what his role was, he’d give every bit of himself on the court when his name was called. He’s done just that this preseason. In the Nuggets exhibition finale, on Tuesday against Oklahoma City, he did not enter the game until midway through the fourth quarter. What ensued? Typical Manimal, running the court, providing energy – and tons of defense. Faried had three blocks with five points and a rebound in 6:37 of action.
The performance caught head coach Michael Malone’s attention.
“I give a lot of credit to Kenneth Faried,” Malone said. “I went into the game thinking I was probably going to play a lot of small ball because of the matchup. But to also give it a look, we haven’t looked at that much this preseason. I’ve been around a lot of vets, who if you ask them to go in with six minutes to go, they really wouldn’t want to. Kenneth, he was all over it. Took advantage of the opportunity, and I thought he went out there and played a pretty good six minutes after being on the bench for as long as he was.”
Preserving Chandler. One of the objectives of the week of practices before the start of the season is getting starting small forward Wilson Chandler 100 percent. He has been dealing with a hip issue, and was reduced to just one half of playing time on Tuesday against the Thunder. “I just shut him down,” Malone said. “I want to make sure he’s healthy.”
Christopher Dempsey: firstname.lastname@example.org and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.