For the first time in what seems like weeks the Nuggets offense was back on track, and in a big way. Denver shot a blistering 50% (18-36) from three and as a result the entire floor opened up. The Nuggets had a balanced attack with six different players in double figures led by Jerami Grant, who shot 5-6 from deep on his way to 20 points.
Nikola Jokic looked back to his old self while orchestrating the offense. He finished with 20-11-6 and really helped keep things steady throughout the night as the Blazers kept chipping away. Gary Harris also had a solid game by hitting some open threes and doing an admirable job on defense.
The other telling story tonight: Denver’s bench outscored Portland’s 46 to 9. A 37 point differential and a huge difference maker. Solid, solid effort from everyone, not just Jerami Grant.
Denver’s game plan was clearly to limit Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. It worked - the Blazer’s backcourt was held to just 28 points combined on 27 attempts. The trade-off was that Hassan Whiteside caused fits for Denver all night. Whiteside scored a career high 33 points and grabbed 11 boards, a valiant attempt but still a losing effort.
Finally, Carmelo Anthony had a vintage Melo game. Melo went for 20 points and nine rebounds, hit a couple threes and garnered a positive response from the Denver crowd. It was really cool to see him back in form in Denver, especially against his successor Nikola Jokic. Still, he took another L. I genuinely don’t think he will ever win a game in Pepsi Center again and that’s totally fine.
Coming off a rough road trip, the Nuggets couldn’t have asked for a better start to a five-game homestand. Up next is another homecoming with Danilo Gallinari and the Oklahoma City Thunder paying visit on Saturday.