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Mile Highs and Lows: A Recap of the Denver Nuggets in November

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True to the title of this monthly column, November brought both highs and lows for the Denver Nuggets.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

November has come and gone and it’s time to look back on how the Denver Nuggets fared over the last month. While the four-game losing streak put quite the damper on the great start that the Nuggets got off to, the team was able to find their way back to the winning column by the end of the month. Regardless of how bad losing 6 of 7 games sounds, the Nuggets still sit second in the Western Conference. Plus, I always remember that George Karl’s goal while coaching the Nuggets used to be to win 10 games in a month. The Nuggets fell a game short this month, but that seems acceptable given the tough schedule and the fact that they are still in a great place in the standings.

Record in November: 9-6

Overall record: 15-7

Game of the Month: Denver Nuggets vs. Boston Celtics (11/5/18)

This column would not be a good representation of the month of November for the Nuggets if I didn’t highlight Jamal Murray’s 48-point game at some point. This was a great game to watch as a Nuggets fan. Murray caught fire in the first quarter and nobody was able to find the extinguisher the rest of the night. He did it all on the offensive end and the battle between him and Kyrie Irving was captivating to watch.

The game ended with some controversy, as Murray elected to take a final shot when the Nuggets already had the game in the bag in order to reach the 50-point mark, and Celtics fans did not take too kindly to this decision. Still, Murray’s performance in this game should not be overshadowed. Not many players his age can play that well against a great defensive team like the Celtics. This will likely go down as one of the most memorable games of the season.

Highlight of the Month: Mason Plumlee hits a crucial three-pointer to help Nuggets defeat Utah Jazz

Mason Plumlee picked a heck of a time to make his first career three-pointer. The Nuggets were in a tight battle with the Jazz on November 3rd, and it looked like the game was going to go down to the wire. With just over 8 minutes left in the game and the Nuggets up 79-77, Plumlee got the ball late in the shot-clock from 24-feet after receiving a pass from Malik Beasley. Plumlee, with no other option, let the ball go. After he released the shot and the ball found its way through the rim, the crowd and the Nuggets’ bench exploded, forcing a timeout from the Jazz. This was such a pivotal point in the game, as the Nuggets had only just regained the lead after a made three from Beasley.

That shot started a huge run by the Nuggets that ended in them defeating the Jazz, 103-88. While many players had a great performance in this quarter that resulted in the win, it felt as though the team was truly feeding off of the energy that permeated throughout the Pepsi Center after Plumlee’s shot went in. It’s pretty amazing that the game ended with DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell seeing the floor, considering how close the game was up until Plumlee’s three spurred a huge run.

Player of the month: Paul Millsap

This was a hard category to pick because so many different players had big games for the Nuggets. It seemed that every player had at least a few games in which they really shined. Paul Millsap, however, has played so well on both ends of the floor for the Nuggets and has looked so much better than he did at the beginning of the season. He’s been a steady anchor on the defensive end and his offensive game has really started to take off. Against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 23rd, he scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds and two blocks. The Nuggets were winning games earlier in the season when he was struggling to shoot, so now that his shot has started to fall, the Nuggets just got a lot scarier.

Story of the Month: The Nuggets dropped 6 of 7 games, including a four-game losing streak, in the middle of the month.

November was a roller-coaster of a month for the Denver Nuggets. After going 6-1 to start the season in October, the beginning of November looked like it was going to just keep getting better for the home-town team. Things took a turn for the worst, however, when the Nuggets dropped four games in a row, including a loss to the Brooklyn Nets at home (ouch) and a loss against the Memphis Grizzlies in which Nikola Jokic only took ONE shot the entire game. This prompted fans to wonder why their best player did not take it among himself to carry at least some of the scoring load.

The Nuggets then won convincingly against the Atlanta Hawks by 43 points, and the hope was that this game would mark the end of the Nuggets’ temporary woes. The Nuggets were not able to do a full 180 swing, however, as they lost their next two games against the New Orleans Pelicans and another one to the Milwaukee Bucks. Things have looked much more promising since then, as they are currently on a five-game winning streak, but realizing that the Nuggets dropped 6 of 7 games to essentially erase the great start that they got off to is a tough pill to swallow.

Also, it’s important to note that the Nuggets were not playing horrible during this stretch. In fact, their offense actually got a lot better. However, their defense went on a downward spiral. This led some to wonder if the Nuggets were sacrificing defense in order to get back on track on the offensive end. While this may not be the case (and Michael Malone has argued that it is not), it did seem as though the energy and intensity they had on that end through the first couple of weeks of the season was not the same during this stretch.

Surprise of the month: Mason Plumlee is emerging as one of the Nuggets’ most valuable players

When the Nuggets signed Plumlee to a three-year, $41 million contract before the 2017-18 season, it wasn’t exactly a decision loved by all Nuggets fans. Because Jokic is always going to be the starting center, many saw it as too big of a contract to pay a back-up. This season, however, it’s becoming clear just how important Plumlee has been to not only the second unit, but the entire team. This month has been full of huge moments by Plumlee, whether it’s hitting a three-pointer that stuns the entire crowd, coming up with a huge block, or reverse-dunking his way into two points. He’s been a big part of why the Nuggets’ bench is playing so well this season. One of his best games this month was against the Orlando Magic on November 23rd. His line consisted of 15 points, 4 assists and 11 rebounds, and he shot 6/8 from the field. All of this with no turnovers and just 20 minutes of action. You just cannot ask for more from your back-up center.

Grade for the month: C+

What’s new on Denver Stiffs:

There’s a lot going on over at the Stiffs this month. In response to the great win against the Lakers, and Malone’s now famous quote that he gave after the game, D-Line Co. and the Stiffs have introduced the newest t-shirt available for purchase. If you haven’t already, you have to check it out. It’s a great way to gloat some more about the Nuggets defeating the best player in the game and forcing many Lakers fans to leave the Pepsi Center deflated. Gift it to a Nuggets fan this Christmas (or clown on a Lakers fan).

Another Stiffs NBA Show was released by Brendan Vogt and Adam Mares. This show is a serious can’t-miss if you’re a Nuggets fan, as it will allow you to get insight into the team as well as experience the highs and lows through two writers that are fully immersed in the goings-on of the team.

The Denver Stiffs are also partnering once again with the Denver Nuggets and HopeKids Co to give Nuggets’ fans the opportunity to purchase a ticket in order to send a kid battling cancer to the Nuggets game against the Charlotte Hornets on January 5th. This is a great cause, and you can participate for only $10.00! Check out this link to learn more.

Also, continue to keep up-to-date with all of the podcasts from the Stiffs’ writers as well as the video content on the Youtube channel. There’s honestly too much content on Youtube and the Stiffs website to mention all of it, so dig in to those platforms for much more.