Notes, quotes and observations after the Cavs fell to 1-3 on their five-game homestand with a 126-117 loss to the Denver Nuggets Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

1. The Cavs may have thought they improved their defense at the trade deadline because they got younger, adding three athletic 25-year-olds along with point guard George Hill, 31, a huge defensive upgrade over the departed Isaiah Thomas.

2. But not only do the newcomers have to learn the schemes, but the Cavs have to learn how to play together. Those two factors combined with a hot-shooting opponent spelled trouble, even though the Nuggets were on the second night of a back-to-back.

3. Denver hit 19 3-pointers, tying for the most allowed by the Cavs this season. It didn’t come close to the Nuggets’ season high, they made a franchise record-tying 24 on Feb. 15 at Milwaukee.

4. “They had it going tonight offensively, so we just tried to throw everything at them. We switched, we blitzed, we showed, we did a little of everything. They got hot,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.

5. The Cavs entered the night tied for 22nd in the league in 3-point defense (36.8). In the eight games the Cavs have played with the new four, only one team has shot above 37.5 percent beyond the arc, that the Spurs (47.4) in a 16-point Cavs loss.

6. The Nuggets connected on 54.3 percent from long range, led by Gary Harris (6 of 10), Jamal Murray (3 of 4), Wilson Chandler (2 of 4) and Will Barton (4 of 10).

7. In the first half, the Nuggets shot 55.3 beyond the arc, 59.6 overall.

8. “We started off a little too lax,” J.R. Smith said of the Cavs’ defense. “They pretty much got any shot they wanted without a contest. We’re much better when we don’t go under and we’re more aggressive, whether it’s double-teaming or going over the top of screens. That’s just the team we are. When we go under, the guys get downhill and the bigs kick out for 3s. I mean, that’s what they’re good at. And we didn’t make them work enough on the other end.”

9. While LeBron James gave credit to the Nuggets shooters, he also mentioned 6-foot-11 Nuggets third-year center Nikola Jokic, who had a team-high eight assists.

10. “They went in,” James said of the Nuggets’ shooting. “Some of ‘em were open looks. Gary Harris was hot from the beginning all the way to the end. They shoot the ball extremely well. What makes it difficult is they pass the ball and they’ve got great movement and their best facilitator is probably their best player and that’s the Joker, so he kind of triggers a lot of their action.”

11. New Cav Larry Nance Jr. added 6-foot-8 forward Paul Millsap into the equation, even though Millsap was playing just his third game after missing three months with a wrist injury.

12. “The way they spread the ball and the way they’ve got those shooters, they’ve also got two great passers in Millsap and Jokic. When those guys start backing down, they’re so good in the post that your guys on the perimeter have to respect that,” Nance said. “The shooters, you’ve got to kind of live with something. Tonight whether they were open or contested, their shots were just falling.”

13. That said, the Cavs still cut a 15-point Nuggets lead to one with 2:26 remaining. But Millsap hit a 3-pointer and after Smith missed two triples on the next trip downcourt, Harris bombed in a 31-foot trey. George Hill lost the ball out of bounds for a turnover and a Chandler dunk boosted the Nuggets’ margin to nine.

14. “We get down one we’ve got to find a way to get a stop,” James said. “Tonight we had a tough break, G Hill’s play on Wilson (Chandler), it was the old pull-chair move. Sometimes guys have never seen that before. I felt like he pulled him down and right after that Millsap hits the 3 that put ‘em up four. We come down and have a great look by Swish, misses it, we get the offensive rebound, he has another one, misses it again and they come down and hit a bucket.”

15. Asked why the Cavs have not been able to get late stops recently, Smith said, “Just the mentality, I think. And also, we got new guys in. I believe George, Rodney (Hood), Cedi (Osman) still is a younger guy, Larry, we have guys in those positions that typically haven’t been in those positions in our system. And that’s no knock to them, it’s just they’re second-guessing themselves a little bit. That’s just human nature. You’re going to do that when you haven’t been in the same environment for too long. Once they’ve been here long enough they’ll start to get it.”

16. With the deficit cut to one, the stage was set for one of those ultimate tales of redemption for Smith. It may have been, anyway, but would have been more appropriate in a victory.

17. Back from a one-game suspension for throwing a bowl of soup at assistant coach Damon Jones, Smith didn’t take a shot in the first half. He hit three of the Cavs’ first four shots in the third quarter and finished with 19 points. He made 7 of 12 field goals, 2 for 5 from long range, along with two rebounds, two assists, a steal and a blocked shot. He and James scored all the Cavs’ points in the fourth quarter with 10 each.

18. “We needed it,” James said of Smith’s performance. “He started in the second half with four straight buckets and felt good, felt great actually, got into a great rhythm with his dribble. They started to switch a lot with a big on him and he was just breaking the bigs down and getting to his shot. It was definitely a big-time game for him.”

19. Lue said Smith going scoreless was not a point of discussion at halftime.

20. “No, I just ran a couple plays to start the half to try to get him going and he made some shots to get us going offensively,” Lue said. “We know he can miss two, three, four shots in a row and he can come out and make seven in a row. He gave us that spurt in the second half that got us back in the game, being aggressive. We called his number because we needed a little jolt from him and he came up big for us in the second half.”

21. Asked the difference in the two halves, Smith said Lue calling plays for him definitely helped.

22. “Got better looks. Just tried to be aggressive,” Smith said. “In the first half I came off two dribble handoffs and got one kicked ball and one time they doubled me. So, I mean, I really didn’t see much opportunity. In the second half I just figured to hell with it, just be more aggressive. If they double me, try to get around them and then make a play. Just a different mindset, I guess.”

23. Smith knew he hadn’t taken a shot in the first half.

24. “Yeah. I’m pretty good with my shots, so I know when I shoot and I know when I don’t,” he said.

25. Smith sounded ready to put the last 48 hours behind him. The incident with Jones happened after Thursday’s shootaround.

26. “Yeah, absolutely. Just do what I do. Just come in and work, play with my kids and play 2K, that’s about it,” Smith said. “I can’t really dwell on the past. I’ve never been that person. I just look forward to the next day and try to do better every day.”

27. Smith wasn’t the only one who had a big half. Nance scored all of his 14 points in the first half, hitting 6 of 7 shots in the first two quarters. He finished with eight rebounds, five in the first half.

28. “His energy was definitely infectious and being able to push the basketball off breaks, defensively flying around. He’s been really good for us. His athleticism is really good,” Lue said.

29. In the second quarter, Nance he was on fire during a span of 2:04 with a driving layup, an alley oop dunk off a Jordan Clarkson assist and a posterizing slam of Mason Plumlee that drew a huge reaction from the Cavs’ bench.

30. “It was fun. It was definitely fun,” Nance said. “They were leaving me open so I … just kind of made them pay for it.”

31. He especially enjoyed the dunk on Plumlee.

32. “Definitely. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing since I got in the league, what I enjoy doing. That will be one I’ll look at a couple times,” he said.

33. Nance left with 4:15 remaining after he said Harris ran past him and hit him in the knee.

34. “Totally accidental kind of ran into my knee a little bit, hyperextended,” Nance said. “But it’s fine, I was ready to go back in. I just needed to come out like, ‘I’m all right, good, let’s go.’ Coach Lue decided to stay with the guys that were in, but I was ready to go.”

35. Lue also was called for his first technical of the season with 6:07 left in the third quarter, apparently for inadvertently touching a referee.

36. “I think I messed up. I think I touched him on accident,” Lue said. “You ain’t supposed to touch them, I guess.”

37. James didn’t put the onus on learning the plays and schemes just on the four new players.

38. “We’re all trying to get better. It’s not just the guys at the deadline, it’s all of us, we’re all trying to figure it out,” James said.

39. Hill, who has been to the playoffs in eight of his previous nine seasons, isn’t worried about the Cavs being 4-4 since the new players took the court.

40. “No. I don’t expect us to be 8-0 right now. I feel like early we were on that high horse, new to the city and new to the team, so you’re kind of on cloud nine to get away from your old stomping grounds,” he said of the Cavs’ victories in Boston and Oklahoma City. “But once teams start scouting and figuring things out, we’ve just got to figure it out ourselves, where we’re going as a team and what’s going to be our identity. It’s all new schemes for us defensively for four guys coming into a rotation to play with a playoff team like this is totally different. It’s going to take time. There’s no need for us to tip our head down. We’ve got to keep our head high and figure it out.”

41. Former Cavalier Richard Jefferson, now with the Nuggets, snuck through the Cavs’ training room and popped his head out of the door next to James’ locker just as James was about to address the media. The two discussed getting together when the Cavs visit Denver for a game Wednesday, but Jefferson pointed out the Nuggets play the night before. Jefferson told James the Nuggets were spending the night in Cleveland, which drew a “Hit me up,” response from James. Chances are wine was part of the plan.

42. “I don’t drink nearly the amount of wine as I did when I was with this team,” Jefferson said before the game. “That was more just a camaraderie thing. Half these guys aren’t even old enough to drink. And if they are, they’re just barely old enough to drink, so they wouldn’t know a good wine.”