Things didn’t go that great for the Denver Nuggets this week as they continued to struggle on the road.
Nuggets stumble out of the gate on road trip
The Nuggets wound up going two and two on the week because they had the benefit of playing the Sacramento Kings at home on the second night of a back to back. Michael Porter Jr. made his first career start and made the most of it, scoring nineteen points and shooting 80% from the field. Behind his play the Nuggets were able to get separation in the second half and hold off a late Kings rally for the win.
After the Kings victory the Nuggets headed out on a five game road trip with the first stop being Houston to face the Rockets. Denver was unable to duplicate their success from earlier in the season and James Harden and Russell Westbrook had their way with the Nuggets D. The Rockets grabbed the lead in the mid first quarter and never looked back. Harden led the way, scoring thirty five points on just seventeen shots.
Despite the tough loss to Houston the Nuggets were able to recover on their second game in the road trip. Denver got another big performance from Porter Jr. and vanquished a good Indiana Pacers team in their own building. The Nuggets fell behind early but used a big rally in the third quarter to come all the way back and seize the W. MPJ set a new career high with twenty-five points on 11-12 shooting.
Unfortunately, the Nuggets would slip up in the very next game. Facing the lowly Washington Wizards, Denver inexplicably was unable to stop Ish Smith and Troy Brown Jr. That duo combined for fifty-seven points on just thirty-six shots. Jamal Murray had a big game on Denver’s side but he didn’t get much help otherwise. The Nuggets fell behind early and came back with a chance to win in the fourth quarter but fell off a cliff in the final frame and end up taking an ugly loss.
G-League roundup: Jarred Vanderbilt to join P.J. Dozier in Chicago
Jarred Vanderbilt has been spending his time in the G-League thus far this season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers but the Nuggets announced today that he will now go to the Windy City Bulls. The Bulls are where teammates Bol Bol and P.J. Dozier have played this year so Vando will get to see some familiar faces. Unfortunately for him though, Bol remains up at the NBA level and Dozier has been sidelined the past two games with the flu,
Player of the week: Jamal Murray
It’s a toss up this week between Murray and MPJ. MPJ had the strong outings against the Kings and Pacers whereas Murray was dynamite against the Pacers and Wizards (no one outside of Nikola Jokic was good against the Rockets). Murray had thirty-nine points in the loss to Washington though, which is more than the three of Porter’s game’s that weren’t against the Pacers combined. Jamal’s game against Indiana was a bit overshadowed by MPJ’s explosion but he also was very strong that night with twenty-two points, seven assists and zero turnovers.
Initial All Star voting results are in
The NBA All Star game fan voting results were released this week, or at least the first round of voting results. Nikola Jokic was the only Nugget to appear among the leaders. He ranked seventh among frontcourt players in the Western Conference. It was two Europeans who wound up in the lead overall (Luka Doncic & Giannis Antetokounmpo) and Tacko Fall takes the title of least deserving player on the list of top vote getters. The fan vote portion of All Star voting accounts for 50% of the decision on the All Star starters, with the other half coming from media and player votes. NBA coaches select the reserves. Despite a clear outpouring for European players, Jokic hasn’t had a flashy enough season to get himself in the conversation with the LeBron James and Kawhi Leonards of the world. It’s unlikely Joker goes into the All Star game as a starter, but don’t be surprised if the coaches put him in the game.
Fun moment of the week: MPJ gets the ice bath
It’s been a wet week for Michael Porter JR., literally. First Jerami Grant got him with a water cup bath after MPJ scored nineteen points in his first start. A few games later when he topped that performance with his twenty-five point outburst against the Wizards the team made sure to give him the full treatment. Lured in by what appeared to be a vet to rook heart to heart with Paul Millsap, Porter’s teammates unleashed the trap and gave their young forward a proper water cooler shower in celebration of his recent success.
New career-highs in two of the last three games??— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 3, 2020
YEAAAAAH MIKE!!! pic.twitter.com/HZlBGFrzYS
A full week of pods this week! First Gordon and I talk about whether or not Porter Jr. should be starting already for the Nuggets. Next we have a trio of New year’s pods with Ryan Blackburn recapping the Nuggets year in 2019 on Nuggets Numbers followed by him and Brandon Ewing’s giving their suggestions for some Nugget’s New Year’s resolutions on the Denver Stiffs Show, finally Jena Garcia talks with Will Barton and Jerami Grant on the Chick N’ Nuggets podcast about their own New Year’s resolutions. To wrap up the week Nick Hertzog and Jeremy Poley react to the arrival of MPJ on the latest episode of The Dig.