The Denver Nuggets took care of business on Friday night with a very convincing 106 to 75 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Nikola Jokic’s knee was well enough for him to play and the Joker didn’t miss a beat as he nearly notched his first triple-double of the season with 11 points, 16 rebounds and 8 assists. Dallas kept it competitive for the first half, but clearly ran out of gas after playing last night then traveling to altitude.
Denver came out aggressive and really set the tone for the game. Will Barton attacked the rim incessantly and Jokic facilitated everything else, earning 7 boards and 5 assists in the first quarter alone. His two-man game with MPJ looked solid as well as he helped Porter to get some easy buckets and hopefully gain some confidence. Porter finished with 12 points but was just 1-6 from three.
A principal theme for the night was that Malone finally committed to staggering the lineups. At first it seemed like it would work just fine as Barton stayed on late in the first quarter with the bench and held down the fort, but the second quarter was a different story. The lineup of Barton and MPJ + reserves got rocked, giving up a 13-0 run before Malone called it quits and began some interesting experimentation. The rotation consisted of Jokic + just about every combination of players one could think of, but it worked as the Nuggets kept extending the lead to 54-44 at half.
Jokic picked up two ticky-tack fouls to start the third quarter but Malone elected to keep him in. It was the right call as Jokic led the Nuggets on a huge surge (there was a 27-5 run at one point) and an insurmountable lead, even with noted Nugget killer Boban Marjanovic on the floor. Denver outscored Dallas 33-12 in the third quarter, and held them to just 19 in the fourth quarter garbage time as well.
Luka Doncic led Dallas in scoring with just 16 points thanks to some pretty phenomenal defense from Aaron Gordon. Barton had a game high 17 and every starter hit double figures except for Monte Morris who had 8 points (though it felt like he had more...).
Bones didn’t crack the rotation until garbage time and Bol Bol finally got in as well. The fourth quarter was pretty much them trying to one-up each other which culminated with a Bol steal on defense that he finished with a powerful alley-oop from Austin Rivers.
BOL BOL.— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) October 30, 2021
That's it. That's the tweet pic.twitter.com/rLQULwvwww
If there’s anything to take away from a 31 point victory it’s that the Nuggets took a step in the right direction tonight with the rotation. It’s seemed that Malone still isn’t comfortable staggering the lineups but as its just the fifth game of the year the experimentation is expected. There won’t ever be a magic bullet for when Jokic is off the floor but over time they will figure it out.