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Recap: Denver wins a close one 95-94 as Jokic drops 28 and blocks Houston’s game-winning shot attempt

The Nuggets did not play their best basketball but they came out with the win. Now, they are once again above .500 and look to capitalize further as they face Miami on Monday

Houston Rockets v Denver Nuggets Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

It’s not time to panic but there is plenty of room for concern regarding this Nuggets squad. Denver’s 95-94 win against the Rockets was anything but comfortable. Denver could not throw a pea in the ocean all game from three until Gordon hit two threes in a row late in the fourth. They were down by five until Gordon’s mini offensive explosion, but the game was still far from over. The Nuggets’ final offensive possession ended in a panic three as the shot clock expired giving Houston the last chance.

Jae’Sean Tate saw an open lane with seconds remaining but the MVP sent his shot backward and blocked it as time expired. He’s not only one of the most clutch offensive players in the NBA but defensively as well. He has blocked multiple game-winning shots, and his defense this season has been an absolute revelation. He is among the league leaders in defensive rating this season and is following his previous MVP campaign with an even better one this season.

The Nuggets win a close one but they are far from playing their best basketball. Their three-point shooting has been horrendous for over a week and tonight was much of the same. Denver will need to find a quick remedy because they face arguably the best team in the league as the Miami Heat come to town on Monday.

1st Quarter

  • Great defensive energy early, rotations were smooth and the help defense was timely
  • Barton was carrying the Denver offense early, started the game off with a three, and mixed in some mid-range baskets
  • MPJ continued his anemic three-point shooting, missed his last 14 three-point attempts to that point
  • Houston with the early advantage scoring in the paint, but Denver made up for it with fast break points
  • The Rockets finished the quarter in attack mode. They were more physical, referees were letting them play, providing Houston with free throw opportunities to take the lead

Scoring leaders: Barton - 9, Wood - 6

Score: 27-26 Rockets

2nd Quarter

  • Denver opened the quarter with five straight misses from beyond the arc, they were 2-14 from three at that point
  • Houston moved to zone since Denver couldn't make a jump shot, causing multiple Denver turnovers and increasing their lead to six
  • The Nuggets lackluster three-point production seemed to impact their energy later in the second. The Rockets destroyed them in the paint and moved the ball significantly better than Denver
  • Denver did not change their offensive strategy mid-way through the second, they kept hoping to get bailed out by the three-ball but it never went in. Denver ended the half 2-20 from three
  • As Denver tried to close the quarter on a different note, they started to get aggressive towards the paint and it worked cutting the lead to one

Scoring leaders: Jokic/Barton - 13, Theis - 8

Score: 47-46 Rockets

3rd Quarter

  • PJ Dozier got the start in the second half due to MPJ’s lower back tightness, Denver once again opens the quarter with a missed three
  • Monte Morris hit Denver’s first three since early in the first, they had missed 18 straight before that. Nuggets gain momentum to acquire a four-point lead
  • Nuggets making a concerted effort to get to the free-throw line, especially Jokic. Midway through the second quarter, Denver shot 83% from the line and Houston 50%
  • Nuggets opened a seven-point lead with the help of an assertive, energetic Nikola Jokic. He had 12 straight points for Denver
  • The Rockets crept back into the game and tied it up with constant rim penetration and kick out opportunities to the corner
  • The quarter closes with a deep Facu three and at the other end, the Nuggets offer the Rockets an easy layup to end the quarter

Scoring leaders: Jokic - 25, Theis - 15

Score: 72-71 Nuggets

4th Quarter

  • The two teams traded baskets for a couple of minutes until Facu hit his second three of the game. It ignited energy throughout the arena and facilitated a 9-1 scoring run
  • Nuggets increased their lead to seven with two straight JaMychal Green baskets. He positioned himself well in the paint and was physical enough to shield defenders to gain space
  • Following the timeout, Houston destroyed the Nugget lead and tied the game with a Christian Wood dunk over Campazzo
  • Austin Rivers played some nice fourth-quarter minutes. He did not score but he gave great defensive energy which seemed to translate throughout that group
  • Free throw shooting aided Denver’s success in the third but they did not attempt a free throw in the fourth until the 3:24 mark. Denver’s early 9-1 run was answered with an 18-6 Houston run
  • Theis hit a three to put the Rockets up 94-89. He was their leading scorer all game and the Nuggets could not match his energy consistently throughout the game
  • Gordon hit two straight threes in the same spot to put the Nuggets up one, 95-94
  • Jokic blocked Tate’s game-winning layup attempt as time expired

Scoring leaders: Jokic- 28, Theis - 18

Score: 95-94 Nuggets