The Denver Nuggets ousted the New York Knicks tonight 130-118. The offense was humming, as seven players scored in double figures. Nikola Jokic had 18 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds. Gary Harris had 23 points. Trey Lyles had 21 points off the bench. Mason Plumlee had 14 points on a perfect 6/6 from the field. Kristaps Porzingis was limited to 21 points and 7 rebounds as he fouled out of the game with 4:49 to go in the game.
To begin things, the Nuggets started Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Nikola Jokic, and Mason Plumlee, and the offense was humming. Denver jumped out to a 15-8 lead on the back of quality passing from all parties. Three Nikola Jokic assists and a sweet Jamal Murray pass to Will Barton in the corner to open the game were enough to outpace New York early. Defensively, Jokic started on Kristaps Porzingis, who had a merely average beginning to this game. Murray was hitting shots, Harris was hitting shots, everyone was hitting shots.
The Nuggets have 22 points in the first 6 minutes, which is crazy— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) January 26, 2018
The second unit flowed in and kept the pressure high. Trey Lyles entered and put up five quick points, stretching the floor and showing some nice interior scoring and passing. That group kept the pressure on and ended the first quarter up 39-28.
The second quarter began, and Wilson Chandler came out aggressively. He hit a three at the end of the first quarter and another one to begin the second. He hit a nice euro step floater over Michael Beasley as well. Beasley though gave the Nuggets trouble defensively by getting to the line, and Trey Burke of all people put a lot of pressure on Denver’s guards. The Knicks continued to put pressure on Denver, cutting the lead to as low as three points, but Lyles continued to score at a high level, highlighted by a dunk after driving down main street.
The starters began filtering back in and kept increasing the lead. Gary Harris got extremely hot against the rookie Frank Ntilikina, hitting two threes, a long two, and getting to the line for a couple free throws. The ball was POPPING during the entire half against an overmatched Knicks defense. Denver’s defense wasn’t crisp at this point, but they did enough to keep a 73-60 lead going into halftime.
The Nuggets began the third quarter flat, but they did get Porzingis his third and fourth fouls. Still, it was discouraging to see the Nuggets take some bad jump shots to begin things. With some help from Gary Harris, things began to calm down though. Kristaps Porzingis stayed out there, and even though he did some good work getting to the free throw line and blocking a Murray layup attempt, he picked up his fifth foul trying to grab an offensive rebound.
After Porzingis went out, the two teams battled back and forth. Denver kept the Knicks at an arm’s length throughout, but Enes Kanter was giving them issues inside. The Knicks had 24 points in the paint in the third quarter, much of that attributed to Kanter, who had 20 points through three quarters. Still, Denver’s offense kept them ahead 99-92 through the third quarter particularly their outside shooting.
Nuggets are outscoring New York 33-18 from the 3-point line— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) January 26, 2018
The begin the fourth quarter, the Nuggets went on a 10-0 run with five points from Barton and a corner three and bank shot from Lyles. New York battled back though, going at Emmanuel Mudiay and Jokic defensively. Trey Burke in particular made the Nuggets’ guards pay by getting by them with a quick first step.
Porzingis then fouled out with roughly five minutes left. At that point, the Nuggets offense slowed down for a small stretch, but Murray, Jokic, and Harris did a nice job of generating good offense when it counted. The Nuggets finished what amounts to a wire-to-wire victory, winning 130-118 for their second win in a row.
Wire-to-wire victories are fun. The Nuggets were able to coast a bit tonight against a worse team. They didn’t play great defense, but when the shots are going in like that, they don’t have to try and keep the Knicks under 100 on the night. As the Knicks made their runs throughout the game, the Nuggets responded with runs of their own. The shooting was integral to that.
This young core is excellent. Nikola Jokic had 18, 7, and 10. Gary Harris had 23. Trey Lyles had 21, 5 and 3, showing some playmaking skills. Jamal Murray had a quiet night after his opening stretch, but then he turned things on in the fourth quarter and finished with 18, 5, and 5. If those are the kinds of numbers Denver can expect game in and game out from those guys, the next six to ten years are looking bright.
On to the next one. The Knicks are a terrible road team. They drop to 6-19 on the road this season, meaning this was a game Denver had to have. They took care of business, and it was important that they did. Now, the Nuggets play Dallas on Saturday night at home, which SHOULD be a victory if they continue this upward trend. After that though, things get tough. Denver’s next seven games are as follows:
- Jan. 27th vs Dallas
- Jan. 29th vs Boston
- Jan. 30th @ San Antonio
- Feb. 1st vs Oklahoma City
- Feb. 3rd vs Golden State
- Feb. 5th vs Charlotte
- Feb. 9th @ Houston
Needless to say, Denver must take care of business in the easier games in order to remain afloat against some of the toughest teams in the league coming up. This game against the Knicks? A cupcake compared to Golden State and the rest of the games ahead.
Closing Point - Pride Night
The Nuggets put together a Pride Night tonight to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community.
The @nuggets aren't just putting on Pride Night.— T.J. McBride (@TJMcBrideNBA) January 26, 2018
They've brought on the head of different LGBTQ groups in and are giving them the support of the #Nuggets and going out of their way to really include Pride Night into everything they're doing.
Amazing work @nuggets & @katywinge
It’s great to see the Nuggets continuing to make efforts to promote diversity within the community. They are setting a great example for the rest of the town as the first Denver professional sports team to hold a Pride event. Hopefully, more teams around Denver and around the NBA follow suit.