What an incredible victory.
In spite of impossible odds, a shorthanded rotation, and staring at a goliath of a team, the Denver Nuggets didn’t just beat the Golden State Warriors: they took it to them. The night was magical, as were the performances of Nikola Jokic and Juancho Hernangomez, but the nine guys that suited up each contributed to the victory in their own way.
Let’s take a look at some of the numbers from Monday night:
- Starting with the big one, the Nuggets shot 24/40 from behind the three point line, tying the record for most three point field goals in the regular season. They tied with the Houston Rockets from this year, who shot 24/61 from the field. The Nuggets needed 21 less attempts from beyond the arc to reach 24 points, which is incredible without the three point exploits of Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Darrell Arthur.
- Nikola Jokic had himself a game as well. He posted the second triple double of his career with 17 points, 21 rebounds, and 12 assists on greater than 50 percent from the field. Does anyone know how many players have accomplished that in a game since 1983-1984? I asked Basketball Reference, and it told me:
- Juancho Hernangomez would not let his opportunity go to waste either. With Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, Emmanuel Mudiay, Darrell Arthur...let me catch my breath...and newest Nugget Mason Plumlee sitting out, Juancho played 43 of the best minutes of his basketball career. He posted 27 points on 9/17 shooting from the field and 6/9 from beyond the arc. He also accumulated 10 rebounds, and each of the numbers are career highs for the Spanish forward. It’s very clear that Juancho is a valuable member of the Nuggets team going forward, and as he continues to improve his all-around game, he could very well develop into a starting caliber player for the next 10 years.
- The Nuggets had 34 assists as a team tonight. On top of Jokic’s 12 dimes, Jameer Nelson and Will Barton each had seven, while Jamal Murray had four off the bench as well. This is the eighth time the Nuggets have posted above 30 assists as a team this year, and 34 ties their second most on the year. The best number for the Nuggets is the 37 dimes they handed out in London a month ago against the Indiana Pacers, and if you were curious, Golden State has the top three assist marks in the NBA at 47, 45, and 41 dimes.
- The Nuggets were missing 66.3 percent of their team payroll tonight. With the injuries and Plumlee not playing, the highest paid player that suited up was Jameer Nelson at a paltry $4.5 million a season.
- The Nuggets suited up $21,529,182 worth of players, and even with Klay Thompson’s injury, the Warriors still played with $71,463,184, more than three times what the Nuggets utilized.
Basically, what the Nuggets did Monday night was amazing and completely unrepeatable. The Warriors are the best offensive team in the league and a pretty darn good defensive team too. The Nuggets were without what appears to be six rotation players. They got some incredible contributions from a variety of players and even fielded a Murray-Malik Beasley-Hernangomez-Mike Miller-Johnny O’Bryant lineup at one point. That’s three rookies, a player held together by the strongest of duct tapes, and a ten day contract player.
The statistical improbability of a win coming together like that is simply incredible, and it’s one that Nuggets fans should remember for years to come. This is how teams are built: a signature win against a strong opponent. Nothing could have been a stronger statement than this.