The Nuggets had a pretty solid week outside of their Christmas game!
Nuggets go 3-1
Denver started the week way back on Sunday with a marquee opponent in the Los Angeles Lakers. L.A. would have to do without the services of LeBron James and the Nuggets certainly took advantage. The Nuggets used a big run in the third quarter to put themselves ahead for good and wound up winning by a fairly wide margin. A bit muted because of the lack of LeBron but still a great win.
Denver wasn’t able to soak up the victory in Hollywood because they had to play a game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix the very next night. As is to be expected coming off a game the night before in California, the Nuggets were a bit sluggish and the game ended up being much closer than Nuggets fans would have liked. Jamal Murray kept Denver’s head above water and made the game winning bucket just before the buzzer though to give Denver their seventh win in a row.
After the win over the Suns many Nuggets fans had hopes Denver could stretch their streak to ten games with three teams that look lottery bound coming up on their schedule. The first of which was the lowly New Orleans Pelicans who came into the game with just eight wins to their name. Little did Denver know though, the Pelicans are actually getting into a bit of a hot streak (they’ve now won three in a row and four of their last five) and they used the national spotlight to show they’re better than their record. The Nuggets had no energy, and no answer for Brandon Ingram, and wound up dropping yet another game on national TV.
The Nuggets got back on track last night against the Memphis Grizzlies as they played one of their most complete games of the season. Denver led throughout and got big performances out of Nikola Jokic, Will Barton and Michael Porter Jr. to put away the Grizzlies in emphatic fashion.
G-League roundup: P.J. Dozier selected to G-League Winter Showcase team
Bol Bol and Vlatko Cancar remain up at the NBA level with the Nuggets while Jarred Vanderbilt also was recalled to Denver this week. P.J. Dozier is the lone Nugget currently down at the developmental level and that didn’t stop him from dominating. He threw together another 25 point scoring outburst in the Windy City Bulls lone game this week and last Sunday his stellar play the previous week was given recognition as Dozier was selected the the G-League Winter Showcase 1st Team. The Winter Showcase is essentially the G-League version of the mid-season tournament idea that the NBA is throwing around. It serves a bigger purpose at the G-League level because all the teams gather in one spot and play a ton of games over a four day span so it’s a great opportunity to showcase (get it?) the G-League’s talent to NBA scouts. Dozier was a key catalyst in both of the Bulls wins (only the top four G-League teams actually compete for the Showcase title) including a near triple double against the Lakeland Magic.
Nuggets extend coach Michael Malone
The big Nuggets news of the week was that coach Michael Malone was given a contract extension through the 2022-2023 season. Prior to the season last year the Nuggets gave Malone a two year extension meaning next season they would have been in that awkward contract negotiation spot with coach on a “lame duck year.” Denver left no doubt about their intentions and got the deal done early. I looked at Malone’s last extension as a “prove it” extension. The Nuggets were coming off an up and down season where they missed the playoffs by mere seconds and Malone had come under some severe scrutiny from the fans. Still, Denver had improved every year so it was a really hard sell to give coach his pink slip. Instead the Nuggets offered a small extension that would be easy to get out of if Malone didn’t continue to build on the growing success of previous seasons. What Malone did was coach the team to a two seed and this time get within mere seconds of the Western Conference Finals. Without a doubt he “proved it” and this extension is well deserved.
ESPN story on the Denver Nuggets extending coach Michael Malone through 2023. https://t.co/cfRFxbwDtX— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 24, 2019
Nuggets trade rumors heat up
Shams Charania of the Athletic had a lot of Nuggets...well...nuggets in his Inside Pass column this week (paywall). The two big takeaways are that Denver could be a landing spot for Jrue Holiday and Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez are officially on the market. Holiday is reportedly unhappy with the Pelicans losing ways, as one would expect of an aging veteran, and the Nuggets apparently see the writing on the wall with Beasley and Hernangomez’s impending free agency. While Holiday would certainly be an upgrade for the Nuggets, the cost to acquire him could end up being too steep for Denver given Gary Harris or a combo of Barton and Mason Plumlee is almost guaranteed to be involved when on e considers Holiday’s $26 million per year salary. On the Beasley/Hernangomez side, the Nuggets will need to weigh their chances (and willingness) to be able to pay the price to keep either player in the offseason versus what kind of value they would get on the trade market in the next month and a half.
Fun moment of the week: Isaiah Thomas isn’t having Jarred Vanderbilt’s turtle neck
Isaiah Thomas is getting a chance to resurrect his career with the Washington Wizards. While Thomas certainly hasn’t returned to the form that he had with the Boston Celtics, he has been starting for the Wizards and is putting up respectable numbers, including hitting over 42% of his three point attempts (5.1 attempts per game). Though he’s now on the other side of the country, IT hasn’t stopped checking in on his old Nuggets teammates. This week on Instagram he reached out to Jarred Vanderbilt to discuss his choice in neck wear. Let’s just say IT isn’t a fan.
With it being Christmas this week we were a little slower on the podcasts but still managed to get two good ones. Gordon Gross and Dan Lewis reacted live to the Nuggets beat down of the Lakers before going through the week’s worth of games. Ryan Blackburn followed up with Nuggets Numbers after the Suns win and broke down some interesting stats from different players during the win streak as well as offered a surprising take on Michael Porter Jr.’s rotation minutes. Make sure to subscribe to the Denver Stiffs Podcast Channel to get all of our podcasts delivered to you directly!