There are some simple truths in the game of basketball. One of the most basic is this: Turnovers are damaging.
On Monday night at the Pepsi Center, in a Nuggets 109-104 loss to Washington, a game they played more than well enough to win, it was this one category that hurt most. The Nuggets turned the ball over 24 times, and the always opportunistic Wizards – one of the best steals teams in the NBA; they had 13 in the game – cashed those in for 29 points.
Because other than that…
Rebounding: Nuggets 44, Wizards 38.
Shooting percentage: Nuggets 48.8, Wizards 44.
Three-point percentage: Nuggets 34.8, Wizards 30.
Assists: Nuggets 27, Wizards 24.
Points in the paint: Nuggets 52, Wizards 38.
Second chance points: Nuggets 16, Wizards 11.
Fast break points: Nuggets 21, Wizards 18.
There was almost nothing else the Nuggets didn’t do better than Washington. But it was all negated by the miscues.
“Give them credit; good defensive team,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “But I think a lot of those were self-inflicted. We had nine turnovers in the second quarter, we had nine turnovers in the third quarter. And it’s amazing that we tied the third quarter. We had nine turnovers and we were still able to come out tied at 22 all. The fourth quarter we only had four turnovers for two points, gave ourselves a chance. But I just told them, we’re getting ready to go on a four-game East Coast trip and we cannot bring those turnovers with us.”
The Nuggets were down by just two points after Jamal Murray hit a jumper with 32.2 seconds remaining. But an incident in which Nuggets center Nikola Jokić inadvertently bumped into Washington coach Scott Brooks while walking off the court during a timeout that was called after Murray’s jumper, resulted in a technical foul call. The Wizards made the technical free throw and another layup on the ensuing possession.
The Nuggets cut it down to three again, but the Wizards got free throws from John Wall with nine seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Jokić broke out with 29 points in a decisive and aggressive scoring performance that took just 14 shots to achieve. He added nine rebounds and five assists. Paul Millsap finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, and Emmanuel Mudiay came off the bench to score 15 points, including two 3-pointers.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 20 points. Wall made just 3-of-13 shots, but hit 13-of-15 from the free throw line and finished with 19 points and 12 assists.
The Nuggets now hit the road for games at Charlotte, Atlanta, Brooklyn and New York.
Christopher Dempsey: firstname.lastname@example.org and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.