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Nuggets’ losing streak extends to five as PJ Dozier leaves with knee injury – The Denver Post

The Nuggets’ margin of error was already very slim. And then another fell.

When PJ Dozier landed awkwardly on his left knee late in the first quarter, it was hard to believe the Nuggets’ astonishing streak of bad luck. Dozier was blown off the field by two teammates and the beleaguered Nuggets fell 119-100 to Portland, losing their fifth straight game.

“I thought the key to this game was the last three minutes or so of this second quarter,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “They finish on an 18-3 streak. The most disappointing thing about that run from Portland was that everything that worked for us up to this point – the movement of the ball, the extra pass, the execution – went out the window, and all of a sudden, we have become a selfish basketball team.

After the match, Malone had no update on Dozier’s status. After losing five straight games, he also said there was no silver lining.

As if the absences of Nikola Jokic (wrist), Michael Porter Jr. (back), Jamal Murray (ACL) and Bones Hyland (ankle) weren’t enough. The available Nuggets continued to claw even as CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard continued to rain in the sweaters. Together, the rear tandem of Portland has accumulated 57 points out of 10 to 3 points.

Veteran Jeff Green paced the Nuggets with 24 points, but Denver had no chance of winning with the number of mistakes they made. Starters Monte Morris and Will Barton have accounted for eight of Denver’s 17 turnovers. Morris had 16 points and Barton finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

The Trail Blazers made them pay off, however, converting 32 points on turnovers and 28 quick break points.

The Nuggets, now 9-9, fought the entire game. Their next chance to end the losing streak comes Friday at Ball Arena against defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks. After that, the Nuggets embark on a grueling seven-game streak.

Denver showed more of its trademark bout in the third quarter. They trailed 76-59 with 7:18 to go before they started a huge run to reduce the deficit to eight. Gordon was a constant indoor threat, Morris found space in the track, and JaMychal Green knocked down a few jumpers. All the while, Malone begged his team to fight, no matter who he called in to replace him.

On Tuesday, that included recently injured striker Zeke Nnaji, who provided energy and positive minutes.

A late float from CJ McCollum gained some momentum, but the Nuggets reduced the deficit to 90-79 before the fourth.

Malone had enough respect for Lillard that it didn’t matter what he had done in previous games.

“Whether he scored 39 in the last game or scored 10, we will protect him in the same way,” he said ahead of the game. “We know he’s a great player, we know what he’s capable of. It’s a hell of a challenge because you have to keep him in transition, high pickup points, you know he’s going to be involved in a ton of pick-and-rolls. You have to keep him out of the free throw line.

Lillard torched the Nuggets with 18 points and four 3-pointers in the first half, deflating what had been a promising effort to start the game. With 11 turnovers in the first half, Denver did itself no favors. Portland closed the first half on an 18-3 course to open a 66-52 lead at halftime.

The Trail Blazers scored 19 points on those mistakes and undermined any chance the Nuggets had to play a solid defense.

“We know we are seriously under-staffed right now, so when that happens you have to understand why you are losing,” said Malone. “And that was my message to our guys this morning. In our four-game slide, our defense is ranked 29th in the NBA. “

Led by Jeff Green’s three 3-pointers, the Nuggets connected on 9 out of 16 3-point tries which was one of the few positives to start the game.

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