The Denver Nuggets will have to wait at least one more game before they get their usual starting five back. Jamal Murray was the latest to succumb to the Nuggets injury woes and was unable to play in their matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly certainly had no sympathy to offer with their entire starting frontcourt out. The Nuggets did have the services of Nikola Jokic, fresh off a one game suspension for leaving the bench during a game, and Joker made the most of his day of rest and the advantageous matchup. He ends up with a huge triple double and the Nuggets get a blowout wire-to-wire win 126-110.
With Murray unable to play Denver naturally they opened the game with a healthy dose of Jokic. He had his full arsenal going with floaters, hook shots, mid-range jumpers, three pointers and of course some nifty passing. Nikola even got a dunk in there. In six minutes of play Joker tallied up twelve points, six rebounds and two assists. That helped the Nuggets build a double digit lead. On the 76ers side Corey Brewer was giving the Nuggets some problem with his energy, it got to the point where he was getting leak out dunks and finishing them with flying kicks to Torrey Craig’s head...classic C-Brew. Jokic continued to be unconscious from the floor. Seemingly everything he was putting up was going down but the Sixers were pushing back as the game took on a lightning fast pace. Mike Muscala was knocking down threes as the quarter was closing but Denver’s bench held on just enough to get a slim lead after one quarter.
The Nuggets bench went toe to toe with the Sixers deep bench early in the second quarter and weren’t able to gain any separation at first. Trey Lyles was having a good run while Muscala had cooled off a bit and the Nuggets stretched the lead out to seven but the Sixers starters checked back in shortly thereafter. When Juancho Hernangomez tried to get a little to fancy with Brewer he ended up losing the ball which led to a leak out dunk for Simmons to reduce Denver’s lead to two and force Coach Malone to take a timeout. He promptly brought his starters back in to calm things down. Denver’s offense seemed to keep finding it’s way to Torrey Craig which was bringing mixed results. The Nuggets maintained a slim lead as the half was drawing to a close and they started to be aggressive to the basket. It wasn’t resulting in many buckets but it was getting them to the line. They started to find their range from beyond the arc as well which pushed the lead to double digits. There was little defense to speak of and at the end of the half the Nuggets were up 77-68.
The Sixers opened up the second half ready to play. Brewer knocked down a three and then J.J. Redick followed his own miss from three for an easy putback which forced coach Malone to take an angry timeout just 50 seconds into the half. The Nuggets refocused and got their shooters going to get the lead right back up to nine. Simmons was really struggling close to the basket which was stalling Philly’s offense. Like he did in the first quarter, Jokic carried the Nuggets through a large stretch of the third. He was able to get points where he could but with Philly’s defense tightening on him Nikola did a lot of damage with his passing, of which Craig was a usual recipient. The Sixers were hanging around though, Shake Milton had a pair of timely threes in the quarter that stopped Denver’s momentum. The Nuggets kept trying to push their lead behind the stellar play of Jokic but the Sixers kept getting threes when they needed them to keep the lead right around ten points. Monte Morris knocked down a jumper with seconds to go and Denver’s lead was 107-96 after three.
Denver’s bench opened up the fourth strong, Malik Beasley made good on a pair of baskets to force a quick Philadelphia timeout. Shortly after that he followed with another three. Philly was ice cold to start the fourth; Mason Plumlee pulled a silly spin move into a two handed flush just before the eight minute mark to put Denver up by sixteen and it started to feel like it was over. Philadelphia’s bench checked in and got a couple quick buckets for one last stand but shortly after Jokic picked up his tenth assist on a fast break that was finished by an absolute poster jam from Beasley. Joker would snag a couple more buckets in the paint to finish out his night with a monster 32-18-10 line. Both teams went to their deep reserves with about three minutes to go. Beasley continued to score, Furkan Korkmaz looked Furkan awesome and the game wound down to the inevitable. The Nuggets complete the blowout and get the win.
He sure did!— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) January 27, 2019
And Nikola Jokic got his 10th assist in dynamic fashion with this Malik Beasley SLAM! ✨✨✨
4.5 fantasy points on the play for Jokic!#NBAFantasy #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/EjnbxkbVHe
Key matchup: Will Barton vs Corey Brewer
Shout out to Corey Brewer, that guy is a baller no matter how you slice it. After being unsigned all season waiting for an opportunity, Brewer finally got the call from the Sixers a couple weeks ago and tonight he showed that he’s still got it. Despite being 33 years old, C-Brew looked like he was still in his prime, flying around the court, running the break, making scrambling plays on defense. It was definitely vintage Brewer tonight and it added up to a twenty point game to go with six boards and four steals. With Murray out Barton was asked to carry the starting point guard duties and he did about as good as you would expect him to do in that spot. Barton didn’t exactly do a lot of distributing, but he was efficient with his scoring and took care of the basketball. It just goes to show what a luxury Barton is with his versatility.
Key Thing I noticed: Jokic is unstoppable
The Sixers were certainly a shell of themselves tonight but that shouldn’t take away from the incredible performance from Jokic. He absolutely dominated the game from the opening moment and was the key reason Denver never trailed in this game. He ends up with his seventh triple double on the season. The first quarter in particular was incredible. Joker pretty much single handedly carried the offense while he scored from all areas on the court. If there is any doubt in anyone’s mind about whether or not this guy should be an all-star then I think at this point you have to say there is just no pleasing them.