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Recap: Jusuf Nurkic impresses in Nuggets preseason debut

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The first Denver Nuggets preseason game of the year lived up to the hype! If only Nuggets fans were able to watch it.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Michael Malone has been hinting at wanting to try the "Jurkic" lineup more this season, a lineup that features both Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic playing alongside each other. Despite only playing a handful of minutes together last year, the Jurkic lineup got the nod in the team's first preseason game and didn't disappoint.

The two bigs worked fairly seamlessly together on the offensive end throughout the first half, throwing assists to each other and making solid reads all night. They alternated spots in transition, the rebounder playing the role of the trailer on the break while the other grabbed deep post position under the basket. Having two bigs that can handle the ball and pass so well makes their offensive fit so fluid. The duo led the Nuggets to a 16-12 lead in the opening six minutes before Malone went to his bench, a solid and promising first look for the pair.

The Nuggets held onto a narrow lead throughout most of the game behind a fairly balanced scoring attack led by Danilo Gallinari. Wilson Chandler made his return to action and had a pair of three-pointers to go along with a solid reverse dunk in traffic. Despite his vow to ignore the score, Malone seemed to let his competitiveness show down the stretch as the game remained close deep into the 4th quarter. Jokic, Nurkic, and Will barton all saw 4th quarter minutes before Malone finally went deep into his bench and allowed the rookie trio a shot of closing out the game.

And close it out they did. Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, and Jamal Murray all had impressive moments down the stretch for the Nuggets including some nifty jump shots and one incredible behind the back no-look bounce pass. The Nuggets won behind a final score of 108-106.

Grades and Notes

Emmanuel Mudiay - C

Mudiay had three turnovers in 23 minutes which is pretty much in line with his turnover rate last season. He also finished just 3-11 from the floor including shooting just 1-5 fro behind the arc. Despite the poor shooting numbers, Mudiay looked a lot more spry and confident than he did at any point last season. He got into the paint fairly often and had a few great cross-court passes.

Jusuf Nurkic - A-

That was the Bosnian Beast we remember! Nurk grabbed a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds in just 23 minutes. He was active on defense protecting the rim, grabbing two blocked shots and altering several others. His 4-9 shooting from the field was the lone underwhelming part of his game, especially considering that all nine of those shots came inside or near the restricted area. Nurk also comitted four fouls including two offensive fouls which would put him on pace to foul out playing starters minutes. But it was mostly a positive night for Nurkic. He drew a lot of fouls on the other end and looked very comfortable as a passer and playmaker alongside Jokic.

Danilo Gallinari - A

Gallo had a very Gallo stat line. 14 points on just 4 shots. He of course got to the foul line 10 times in just 21 minutes, an absurd rate. The Nuggets went to Gallo in the post a few times while Jokic and Nurkic were both on the court and that is something that they will probably have to abandon pretty quickly. There just isn't enough spacing for Gallo to post up, even when he is being guarded by smaller players as he was all night.

Gary Harris - Inc

Harris left the game in the first quarter with what the team is calling a groin strain. Hopefully whatever injury he sustained will not keep him out of the remainder of the preseason.

Nikola Jokic - B

Jokic had a few great passes and showed off his all-around game on both offense and defense but was out of the play far too often in the "Jurkic" minutes. He finished with 12 points on just 7 shots including shooting 1-1 from behind the three-point line. He also added 6 rebounds and 3 assists and led all starters with a +6 in his 28 minutes on the floor.

Jamal Murray - B

Murray was great on the offensive end, scoring 9 points in 17 minutes on an array of nifty dribble pull-up moves. Murray's finishing at the rim was especially impressive as he was forced to take a few awkward, contested runners and floaters. He knocked down his sole three-point attempt, a 27-foot bomb that he launched with a quick release over the out-stretched arms of the defender. Defensively, Murray was a problem. Fred Van Fleet got rolling in the 4th quarter against Murray, beating him on PnRs over and over again.

Juancho Hernangomez - B

The game looked a bit fast for Juancho in the early go but he quickly got caught up to speed and dropped what might be the pass of the year; a spinning, behind the back, no-look bounce pass to Jarnell Stokes for an and-1. On first look, it appeared as though Juancho just lost the ball but on replay you can see that he catches a view of the open Stokes right before letting the pass go. In addition to that pass, Juancho filled up the stat sheet with 2 points, 2 blocks, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists in just 10 minutes

Malik Beasley - A

It's just great to finally see Beas play. Beasley was a perfect 4-4 from the field including 1-1 from behind the arc, helping him score 9 points in just 10 minutes. He had the full array going including a dribble drive to the rim, a turnaround jumper, and a catch-and-shoot three. Beasley has a great personality and a huge smile, neither of which fade when he steps on the court. Nuggets fans are going to enjoy rooting for him for the next several years.

Wilson Chandler - A

Welcome back, Ill Will! Wilson played just 16 minutes but that was enough to make the highlight reel. His dunk through traffic was followed up by a much needed in-rhythm three-pointer. It was great to see him back on the court.

The Nuggets next game is Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers, a game that will feature a LOT of young talent.

Check out Altitude's post game interview with Michael Malone and Jamal Murray.