PHILADELPHIA – Nuggets wing Will Barton considered Friday’s loss to Philadelphia a step in the right direction even if it extended their losing streak to three.
With two games leftover before the All-Star break, Nikola Jokic didn’t sound ready to go that far.
“We can just have energy, run around, it’s not going to help us,” Jokic aforesaid after his eleventh triple-double of the season wasn’t enough in the 117-110 loss to the Sixers. “I think we need to be focused. … If we have energy that doesn’t mean nothing.”
Jokic was upset at Denver’s fourth-quarter defense, which short-circuited any shot they had at stealing a game on the road and born its record to 37-18. The Sixers scored 34 points on 75% shooting from the field in the fourth. They besides got to the free throw line 16 times.
“You cannot win the game if they’re gonna shoot like that,” Jokic aforesaid. “Especially, we lost a lot of open shots, you cannot miss shots and don’t play defense.”
Related: Nuggets fight, but extend 3-game losing streak against 76ers
Barton was extremely critical of his team’s effort in Wednesday’s loss to Brooklyn but softened his tone after his team was competitive until the final few minutes.
“Much better than the last two games,” Barton aforesaid. “We won’t be like ‘Damn, we didn’t play hard like the last two games.’ Good little step in the right direction.’”
More important than departure Philadelphia with a win, Nuggets coach Michael Malone simply wanted his team to fight as they had throughout about every game before this week. After the loss to the Nets, Malone questioned his team’s expertness and bemoaned that their effort was even up for debate.
A 22-6 run to end the second quarter showed evidence of their resiliency, and their 35 assists confirmed their unselfishness. Four different players – Jokic, Barton, Jamal Murray and Mason Plumlee – all reached double-digits with at least five rebounds and six assists.
“We have to participate in our own recovery,” Malone aforesaid. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. Tonight was a much better version of the Denver Nuggets. I think we can walk out of here with our heads held high.”
If there’s one common divisor throughout the losing streak, it’s been their porous perimeter defense. The Pistons, Nets and Sixers combined to shoot 45 of 93 from 3-point range (48%) over the final three games of the road trip. On Friday, J.J. Redick torched the Nuggets with 6-of-7 shooting from on the far side the arc. Addressing that should be Malone’s top priority heading into games against Miami and Sacramento before the break.
The loss born the Nuggets to just 1.5 games ahead of billowy Oklahoma City, presently the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
They key to ending their three-game slide?
“Just knowing what’s at stake,” Barton aforesaid. “It’s time to get back to business.”