The Nuggets were able to avoid the temptation to overlook the Knicks with a back-to-back against the Celtics tomorrow night, flattening the pathetic team that plays in Madison Square Garden with an outstanding run in the second quarter and a nice close to the game by the bench.
The Nuggets had eight players finish in double digits for points, with Barton leading the team with 17 points while Malik Beasley chipped in 14. The Nuggets backup shooting guard was a team-high +33 in 24 minutes, helping lead the Nuggets to a big lead in the second quarter and then playing outstanding ball in the second half to help guide the team to their easiest win of the season. It’s a shame the Nuggets can’t play the Knicks more often, because if this is how the game is going to go, the Nuggets would be able to treat this game like a practice.
Mitchell Robinson lead the Knicks in scoring with 17 points, while Marcus Morris Sr. was the only other Knicks player to reach double digit points. The Nuggets defense played stout tonight, but as good as the defensive effort was, the Knicks were just taking bad shots and missing everything they threw up. The checks still clear the bank though — can’t blame them for not being able to succeed with that roster.
Jamal Murray scored the first basket for either teams, knocking down a 3-pointer — his first in a while it feels like. Both teams traded a couple bad shots, unable to connect on their jumpers. Things quickly got testy between Marcus Morris Sr. and Nikola Jokic, with the two players exchanging pleasantries after a Will Barton 3-pointer and drawing technical fouls for the two of them. Morris was able to make a 3-pointer a few possessions later, and Michael Malone decided it was time to talk about the slow start with his starters.
Both teams were able to get some points on the board as the reserves began to get on the court, but the Nuggets weren’t able to scratch out a lead until later in the quarter. Juancho Hernangomez came in and hit down two 3-pointers to get Denver ahead, 29-27. The Nuggets were able to close out the quarter with the lead, 33-27, with Jamal Murray chipping in 9 points to lead the team in scoring.
The Nuggets were able to extend their lead in the second quarter thanks to some baskets from Malik Beasley, although one of his 3-pointers was revoked after a review during a break. Juancho got stuffed on a breakaway by Kevin Knox II, a really impressive play, and then the sophomore hit a 3-pointer on the other end of the floor. The second unit played fast, and was able to find good matchups to help pad their lead and give the starters some rest. Monte Morris got his first dunk of the season following another nice defensive possession lead to a transition opportunity, a play so outstanding that the Nuggets bench was up off their feet giving him chest bumps and high fives.
The Nuggets defense continued to be stout as the starters checked back into the game, and in a blink of an eye, the lead was up to 20 points. The Knicks went over six minutes without a made field goal, and after they snapped their scoreless streak, Barton immediately scored on an acrobatic reverse to make the lead 63-40. Jokic finished the half on his way to a triple-double with six points, six rebounds, and six assists, while Beasley was able to match Murray with 11 points. The team had 22 assists in the first half, a tremendous mark to reach in just 24 minutes.
The third quarter went well for both teams, with little defense being played by either team. The Nuggets continued to make 3-pointers, countering whatever runs the Knicks were able to make. The starters didn’t need to put forward a lot of effort, recognizing that their opponent didn’t have a prayer at being able to close the deficit, no matter how hard they tried. Jokic wasn’t able to get a triple-double, checking out of the game after a scoreless quarter, but he did grab four more rebounds and had two more assists.
Monte Morris started the fourth quarter with a nice stretch, getting a midrange jumper, setting up Jerami Grant for a 3-pointer, then making one of his own from the right wing to put the Nuggets up 30 points with 10 minutes remaining. Dennis Smith Jr. tried to posterize Mason Plumlee, but he wasn’t able to control the ball and it ended up with Mitchell Robinson missing both his free throws. The Nuggets were able to go up by 37 points before their rookie was able to get into the game.
Is that Michael Porter Jr in the Game? pic.twitter.com/8IdhjD49on— Denver Stiffs (@denverstiffs) December 6, 2019
Porter had a nice dish to Plumlee, was able to grab a couple rebounds, and dribbled into a 3-pointer from the top of the key in his brief spell. Torrey Craig was able to get into the game too as Malone emptied his bench with his team up by 40 points. Even against the Nuggets end of rotation guys, the Knicks weren’t able to score, unable to crack the 100 points barrier.
The Nuggets finished with a season high 21 made 3-point attempts, and a season high 38 assists. Easy work if you can find it.
Three things I noticed
It’s the Knicks, what did you expect? It’s nice that Denver was able to have so much success tonight, but what can you really learn from this game? If the other team won’t guard you for more than six seconds a possession, you’re going to get easy points? If the other team constantly turns the ball over or takes bad shots, then doesn’t get back on defense, you’re going to get easy points in the paint? Wow, thanks, I didn’t know that. It’s hard to believe that the Mavericks, who the Nuggets lost to, have lost TWICE to the Knicks. The NBA is weird sometimes, I’m telling you, it’s hard to predict some times.
Jokic passed up a lot of shots. Yeah, I’m going to go back to this, even in a big win. Tonight his teammates were knocking down shots, which is fine. But even in situations where I thought that he might actually want to score on his defender — getting some payback on Taj Gibson for knocking Denver out of the playoffs a few years ago would have been nice — he just barreled into the paint to pass the ball out to the perimeter. It’s a very, very minor complaint, but still, at least get to the free throw line a couple times. He had seven field goal attempts, and most of those came on bad shots in the first quarter. He did have a couple really nice passes, and to the team’s credit, they did not need him to put the ball in the hoop. Gary Harris was the only other starter to not get double-digit points, and he had four shot attempts.
On to Boston. The starters didn’t have to play very minutes, which is nice, because the team heads up to Massassachusetts for a game Friday night. See everyone again in less than 24 hours!