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Recap: Nuggets fall just shy to Memphis; fall to .500

Denver Nuggets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Will Barton had his best game of the season. He had 26 points and 7 assists. Nikola Jokic had a great game as well. He had 34 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists. However, the Nuggets came up shy due to the Grizzlies torching them from 3 point range; where they shot 47.1% (16/34). The Nuggets got in a hole early, and despite recovering they came up short on the last possession.

First Quarter

The Nuggets started this game out very, very sloppy. Players were playing sluggish — committing turnovers, and committing fouls. They were also playing bad perimeter defense. Their interior defense was okay though. The Grizzlies jumped out to an 8-2 lead, and that lead Michael Malone to call a timeout. Out of the timeout, more of the same continued; Memphis got out to an early 17-5 lead and shot 70% (7-10) from the floor. The Nuggets on the other hand starting shooting 28.6% (2-7) from the field, with Monte and Nikola both missing their first 2 shots, and the Nuggets’ backcourt getting kicked in the mouth with Ja Morant and De’Anthony Melton shooting 4-4 from the field for 9 points.

This caused the second timeout in 5 minutes, and everyone except Nikola Jokic came out of the game. Bones Hyland was a bright spot, setting up teammates for 6 points. However, the Nuggets defensive struggles continued — as well as Nikola Jokic’s offensive struggles, and the deficit got all the way up to 20 when the score was 37-17. Ziare Williams was killing PJ Dozier, scoring 9 points on 3 shots in just his first 5 minutes. However, PJ did get a nice block on him afterwards, which lead to a Bones dunk. The score after the 1st quarter was 37-19.

Second Quarter

Will Barton and Michael Porter Jr staggered with the second unit to start the quarter and Barton created some shots including a thrilling throw down over Jaren Jackson Jr. With two shots from him — and a basket from Jamychal Green — the lead got cut down to 12. This lead to a Memphis timeout with the score at 37-25. Will Barton continued his absolute takeover of the game by scoring two tough layups and getting a nasty chase down block. After a particularly acrobatic layup, the Grizzlies called another timeout due to Will Barton, and the lead was cut down to 9. The Grizzlies were only up 40-31.

Then out of the timeout, the starters came in and Thrill threw a full court pass to Nikola Jokic for a Joker POSTER over Jaren Jackson Jr! After a few minutes, MPJ hit a couple of layups; including one off of a Will Barton steal and dime that was an and-one. The Nuggets were up — back from the dead; they’d come back from 20 down. The two teams went back and forth for the rest of the quarter and eventually the score was 56-55 Grizzlies leading going into the half. After a terrible first quarter, the Nuggets really came to play in the second quarter; especially Thrill, MPJ, and Joker.

Third Quarter

The Nuggets got off to a red hot start for the second half. Nikola Jokic either scored or assisted on all of the Nuggets’ 9 points in 3 minutes. The Nuggets had the lead 64-58 and Memphis called a timeout. De’Anthony Melton was making life hard for the Nuggets as he hit a 3 pointer, and got a steal leading to a Ja Morant dunk. The Nuggets were still up thanks to an Aaron Gordon layup, but Ja Morant got fouled by Aaron Gordon on a dunk to take a 67-66 lead with a free throw on deck. He missed it, and after a couple of minutes and a Memphis basket; Bones and PJ checked into the game. Bones hit MPJ on a cut for an easy layup. After a pair of Nikola Jokic free throws and another great finish by Will Barton, the Nuggets were up by 4 again.

Barton continued to score in bunches as he hit two 3 pointers. Then, Facu hit Bones for a dunk in transition. All of a sudden, the Nuggets were up 10. A 30 point swing since the first quarter. However, in the last minute the Grizzlies went on a 5-0 run and cut the deficit to 5. The Nuggets had really turned this one around, the score was 83-78; Nuggets lead going into the final frame.

Fourth Quarter

The bench plus Barton was in for the Nuggets to start the quarter, and it went less than ideally. Jaren Jackson Jr. hit a pair of 3s to put the Grizzlies up 1 and forced a Denver timeout. Tyus Jones hit a pull up midrange shot, but Will Barton responded by hitting yet another 3, totaling 4 on the night on only 6 attempts. However, the Grizzlies went on a little run and went up 6. Bones then hit his first 3 of the night.

Jaren Jackson decided this would be the game he got out of his slump though, and hit his fifth 3 pointer of the night. A couple of minutes passed without a basket, but Joker hit a logo 3 off a Bones pass late in the shot clock to narrow the deficit to 3 points. The Nuggets clawed back after some baskets from Joker and Monte (who had been struggling a lot up until that point). After a Jokic midrange shot at the 3 minute mark, the Nuggets went up again by 2. After a Ja Morant layup and Desmond Bane 3 pointer, the Nuggets found themselves down by 3. Jokic took a layup with 22 seconds left and then the Nuggets fouled a couple of times, and the referees missed a travel on an inbound pass by Desmond Bane. Eventually they sent Ja Morant to the line where he hit only one of them. The Nuggets found themselves down by only two and decided to give Jokic a post up; which he missed.

The Nuggets fell 106-108 and are now only 4-4.