Following Denver’s abysmal game against the Miami Heat Michael Malone questioned his team’s effort.
Today couldn’t have gone more different.
With Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton out again the Nuggets needed someone to step up to the plate. Nearly everyone answered the call. Michael Porter Jr. erupted for a career-high 37 points and 12 rebounds. Nikola Jokic looked as good as ever with a dominant 30-12-10 triple-double. And Monte Morris, who in the first half looked condemned to the season-long funk he’d been in completely turned the game around. He finished with 17 points and was a game-high +28, championing the Nuggets to some critical baskets late.
Denver and Oklahoma City traded punches the entire way. After some schadenfreude Chris Paul free throws tied the game, the Nuggets had a chance to win in regulation but a busted play led to a Troy Daniels miss. In overtime, however, Nikola Jokic took over and bullied Steven Adams multiple times to put Denver over the edge for good.
Jokic was phenomenal and won them the game but the star of the show was rightfully Michael Porter Jr., whom the Nuggets rode in regulation to keep them alive even as Oklahoma City began slipping away.
Porter was night and day from his deer-in-the-headlights performance on Saturday. Rather than settling for poor jumpers, he actively cut and created opportunities for himself and was often rewarded with easy buckets or trips to the foul line. He was aggressive on the boards, pulling in 12 and his 4-6 three-point shooting was a bright spot for the Nuggets, who finished a combined 28% from deep as a team.
Paul Millsap also had a decent game but Denver’s reserves didn’t quite cut it. The Thunder bench handily outplayed Denver’s, led by Abdel Nader’s 13 points on 3-4 shooting from three.
For the Thunder, Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 20+ points each.
Denver’s next game is Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs.