The Denver Nuggets topped the defending champion Golden State Warriors 108-102 in their preseason opener Saturday night.
Here are five takeaways from the Nuggets’ 2017-18 debut:
1. Paul Millsap, an all-star who signed with Denver as a free agent, collected a double-double in his first game in a Nuggets uniform with 22 points and 11 rebounds. He scored 16 points in the third quarter, helping Denver finish the quarter on a 16-2 run to pull ahead for good. Millsap particularly showed off his shooting range, knocking down 4-of-6 attempts from 3-point distance.
2. The stat of the game? The traditionally sharpshooting Warriors went just 4-of-33 from beyond the arc (including 1-of-17 to start the game), while Denver made 13-of-28 shots from 3-point range. The Nuggets are aiming for noticeable improvement on the defensive end after ranking as one of the NBA’s worst teams in every major statistical category last season, but a lot of Golden State’s misfires from deep were solid looks.
3. Jamal Murray started at point guard over Emmanuel Mudiay. Murray played 20 minutes and finished with nine points on 3-of-7 shooting, but connected on two key 3-pointers in the third quarter. Mudiay, who has garnered praise throughout training camp, totaled 19 points and six assists in 28 minutes. Mudiay connected on 6-of-10 field-goal attempts, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, after shooting just 37.7 percent from the floor last season. Veteran Jameer Nelson sat out the game with a toe injury, as expected.
4. Denver’s second unit was Mudiay, Will Barton (10 points in 21 minutes), Juancho Hernangomez (five points in 18 minutes), Trey Lyles (six points in 22 minutes) and Mason Plumlee (10 points in 23 minutes). That group helped the Nuggets build a game-high nine-point lead early in the second quarter. Kenneth Faried, who earlier this week strongly proclaimed his desire to be a starter, did not play, while first-round draft pick Tyler Lydon got four late minutes.
5. The Nuggets players and coaches stood with locked arms during the national anthem. At Monday’s media day, Millsap and Nelson said a protest of some kind against social injustice was likely imminent for the Nuggets. But NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that he expected all players to stand for the anthem, and a memo from the league sent to teams Friday said it had the discretion to discipline players who did not follow the NBA’s rule to stand.