This was the definition of a tale of two halves for the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets, who were without Danilo Gallinari with an ankle sprain, were led in the first half by an outstanding performance from Will Barton, and they had the biggest lead of the season when they were up by 21 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second quarter. Still, the Nuggets drop this game after being outscored 32-16 in the third quarter and another horrible defensive performance.
This night was all about Kobe Bryant, as many fans came out to see him for his second-to-last game in Denver, and he came through by scoring a season-high 31 points, including many clutch shots down the stretch. While the Nuggets had impressive performances from the youngsters Barton, Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris, they struggled on defense mightily for the second night in a row and couldn't execute enough down the stretch to pull out the win.
Still, it's hard not to feel a little encouraged based off of the play of the youngsters. This included 21 points from Gary Harris, despite suffering what looked like a scary knee injury in the first quarter. He was 9/15 from the field and made some good plays down the stretch to keep the Nuggets close. Barton, despite only scoring two points in the second half, looked like vintage Kobe Bryant in the first half when he scored 23 points. And, lastly, Nikola Jokic showed his skills at various points, making unbelievable passes and great shots under the basket. The biggest concern for the Nuggets is their lack of focus on defense and their ability to throw away games in the third quarter. Check out these Jokic highlights to make yourself feel better about the loss, and stay tuned for the full recap.
More Jokic. This time he puts back his own missed shot https://t.co/U9RWihMjpg— Kayla Osby (@nuggetchica) December 23, 2015
Wow!! Jokic with the AWESOME sling pass to Foye https://t.co/fpsui8b4Sp— Kayla Osby (@nuggetchica) December 23, 2015
Box score via Espn.com