The Denver Nuggets, defending champions, kicked off the season with an impressive record of 8-1. However, recent challenges have arisen with the absence of their star player, Jamal Murray. As a result, the Nuggets have encountered difficulties, losing their last two games and three out of their past four. Nonetheless, they saw an opportunity to regain their stride during a road trip to face the struggling Detroit Pistons, who were on an 11-game losing streak with a record of 2-12.
Unfortunately, the game did not go as planned for the Nuggets. In the early stages, Nuggets coach Michael Malone expressed his displeasure with the officials after Isaiah Livers was awarded two free throws. Malone aggressively voiced his complaints and even walked off the court, seemingly expecting to be ejected.
Losing without the guidance of their head coach presented a significant challenge for the Nuggets. However, matters became even worse for them in the second quarter. Nikola Jokic, who had not attempted a single free throw in the first 15 minutes of play, believed he was fouled by the Pistons. When he voiced his frustration to the officials, he too was ejected from the game.
The Nuggets have been vocal about their dissatisfaction with the way Jokic is officiated. In recent seasons, they have expressed concerns about the lack of foul calls benefiting Jokic. Despite averaging an impressive 28.8 points per game this season, Jokic has only been awarded an average of 6.2 free throw attempts. In their last two losses, Jokic reached the line only 10 times combined. The frustration from the early stages of this game proved to be the tipping point for Jokic.
At the time of Jokic's ejection, the Nuggets and Pistons were tied. Despite the challenging circumstances, Denver has managed to hold their ground, with the score currently at 73-72 in favor of the Nuggets. Throughout Jokic's career, the Nuggets have struggled with their depth, and this season has not seen much improvement in that realm. However, if they can secure a victory without Jokic, Murray, or Malone, it could provide the much-needed confidence boost for their bench players moving forward.
As the game unfolds, it remains to be seen whether the Nuggets can overcome these obstacles and emerge victorious against the struggling Pistons. The outcome will greatly impact their confidence and resilience as they navigate the rest of the season. With the defending champions facing adversity, their ability to adapt and rise above the challenges will be pivotal in their quest to defend their title.