Maybe it was fatigue. Nobody ought to have to play back-to-back games with the second contest in mile-high Denver.
Especially a banged-up team like the Trail Blazers.
The Trail Blazers lost 111-106 to the Nuggets Tuesday night in a game when neither team seemed too inclined to invest a lot of time or energy on defense.
And one unbelievable statistic emerged: The Trail Blazers, in 48 minutes, managed to force just one Denver turnover -- and that was with 9:51 to play in the second quarter when Jamal Murray lost the ball out of bounds.
In other words, the Nuggets went the final 33:51 of the game without losing the ball. Or, if you prefer, Portland went the final 33:51 without stealing it. Or forcing someone to travel. Or just poking it away or stepping in front of a pass.
That’s some crazy stuff, there. And some history. It's an NBA record for fewest turnovers in a game by one team.
“I think they take good care of the ball,” Terry Stotts said. “Their two best players handled the ball. They took good care of it. (Facundo) Campazzo did a good job of running the offense.
“They're one of the better passing teams, historically, in the last few years. So I think it's a credit to their offense how well they take care of it.”
Portland had only nine turnovers, which Denver turned into 16 points. But the Trail Blazers stayed in the game because the Nuggets did a poor job of finishing in the paint, going just 20-41.
Nikola Jokic scored 41 to lead Denver but needed 32 shots to do it. Murray got off to a very slow start but killed the Trail Blazers down the stretch, scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter.
But in the end, it appeared to be a tired bunch of Trail Blazers. And it must be pointed out that no team should have to finish a back-to-back set of games in Denver, because of the altitude.
“You know when you’re in a back to back, I think it’s more of a mental thing,” Damian Lillard said. “Just to get yourself up and get yourself prepared mentally for that. But when you are in Denver, it’s always tough. You’ve got to wait for that second wind to kick in.
“You know, the altitude -- it gets to you… It's an obvious advantage. So when we come here, I feel it every time. It's always a challenge. But tonight I thought we handled it well, honestly.
“We had a good third quarter, we played them even in the third. We had a dominant second quarter, and pretty much the whole fourth quarter we played them even until the end.
“Like I said before, we are upset with the fact that we didn't win the game but it is not like we have something to hang our heads about.”
The Trail Blazers now get two well-deserved days off before meeting the Lakers in Los Angeles Friday night.