If you were watching tonight’s game between the Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets looking for a shootout between Kyrie Irving and Jamal Murray, unfortunately you came to the wrong place. If you were looking for the Denver Nuggets to kick their offense back into high gear and spread Nikola Jokic’s wings and fly to an easy victory, you also came to the wrong place - sort of.
The Nuggets pulled out a 101-93 victory not on the back of Jokic-ball, but on a bench unit that showed up defensively for its best stretch of the season. Following a fairly dismal first half all around, the second stringers came in midway through the third and just dominated from there on out. Denver outscored Brooklyn 52-32 in the second half on the way to its eighth win of the season.
Denver had seven players in double figures, led by Jokic and Paul Millsap who each had 18. Jamal Murray was a non-factor and continues to look like his foot is ailing.
For the Nets, Kyrie Irving, Jarrett Allena and Spencer Dinwiddie each scored 17 points on the night.
NIKOLA JOKIC WHAT THE FUDGE pic.twitter.com/Ulq9Y3dKrz— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) November 15, 2019
Denver’s offense looked like it was going to come out of the rut early on as the ball moved, leading to open shots like in the clip above. That thought didn’t last long as very quickly the Nuggets began settling for floaters, and to top it off the defensive effort was not there. The Nets were able to blow by Nugget guards with ease and scored pretty seamlessly throughout the first half.
Before the game Michael Malone hinted at shaking up the bench unit and he did just that, giving early minutes to both Juancho Hernangomez and Michael Porter Jr. It nearly cost them the game as Brooklyn opened the floodgates on this particular bench unit. MPJ was on a really short leash and for good reason; let’s just say it might be a coincidence that he didn’t see the floor again when the second unit made its run in the second half.
Brooklyn built the lead up to 16 at one point but something finally clicked for the Nuggets in the third quarter. Paul Millsap abused Taurean Prince in the block on multiple possessions which enabled Denver to gain momentum and chip away at the lead. The real turning point came when the bench checked in again in what was truly a redemptive performance compared to the first half. The group of Monte Morris, Mason Plumlee, Jerami Grant, Juancho Hernangomez and Gary Harris was phenomenal. They out-hustled, out-rebounded and ultimately outscored the Nets by a wide margin.
That was the ballgame as Malone rode this unit well in the fourth quarter because it was so successful and that group of guys played like they actually cared.
Overall, tonight’s performance was not ideal by any means but once again falls into the category of “a win is a win.” Denver still has many issues to work out; it was just nice to see the depth come through in a crucial moment.