The Denver Nuggets gave up a quick basket to the Charlotte Hornets, and LaMelo Ball bailed them out following a turnover by Denver. The two sides traded misses and empty possessions, including a big swatting of Michael Porter Jr. and an airball by Jamal Murray. After nearly two full minutes with no points, Porter finally got the scoring going with a dunk that was immediately answered by Cody Zeller getting one of his own.
Nikola Jokic found Jamal Murray under the basket for a nifty layup to tie the game up at four. Following a miss by Porter, Ball got right to the cup for an easy layup. A turnover by Will Barton turned into two points for Gordon Hayward and a timeout from Michael Malone. Coming out of the timeout, Jokic got his scoring going with an easy layup before Terry Rozier knocked down a transition 3-point shot. Barton missed a wide-open 3-point shot, and Rozier got another shot to fall from 10-feet out.
Denver turned the ball over again which gave them three turnovers in fewer than five minutes of gameplay. Rozier hit a pair of free throws at the line, and Barton got those two points right back at the rim. Off a miss from Ball, Jokic found Millsap for an easy bucket to get his scoring going which brought Denver back within five. Off a turnover by Charlotte, Murray found Jokic for a big dunk in the paint, but Rozier hit another triple from the wing.
Millsap bullied his way to the basket for another two over P.J. Washington, but Denver gave Hayward a wide-open look from downtown which was quickly answered by Barton. The two sides traded transition misses before Porter drew a blocking foul on Cody Zeller that sent him to the line where he made both freebies. Jokic hit a shot over Hayward that tied the game up at 21 with 3:10 remaining.
P.J. Dozier was called for a blocking foul, and the two sides traded empty possessions before Barton was bailed out by a goaltending call on Bismack Biyombo that gave Denver their first lead of the game. Murray found a pair of steals, but they ultimately resulted in no points. Miles Bridges put in a layup to tie the game at 23 with 1:17 remaining before Facundo Campazzo broke the tie with a corner triple. Bridges put away another dunk prior to a Campazzo missed triple. With the shot clocking winding down, Devonte Graham was blocked by Zeke Nnaji, and the Nuggets were heading to the second quarter leading 26-25.
Coming out of the break, Campazzo turned the ball over with a bad pass, but the Hornets failed to capitalize. JaMychal Green got a shot to fall in the paint. After a miss by Charlotte, JaMychal got another shot to fall. Graham finally got the scoring going again with a 3-point make from the corner. The two sides traded empty possessions before Dozier cashed an open 3-pointer from the wing.
Charlotte turned the ball over, and Murray made them pay with a stepback triple before Ball walked right to the rim for a dunk. Dozier hit another triple to give Denver a lead of nine with 8:32 remaining. Campazzo got a steal, but the Nuggets were unable to turn it into points before Ball hit a corner 3-point shot. Murray and Ball traded missed triples before Rozier hit one which lead to a Denver timeout with 6:58 remaining.
A turnover and missed shot came out of the timeout before Porter hit a jumper from the top of the key. Porter found space under the rim when he got Zeller to go down which gave him an easy bucket. He fouled Ball on the other end who made both free throws. Campazzo was fouled driving to the basket, but he was deemed as on the ground. Millsap got a steal on Hayward, and Campazzo drew another foul. Off the side out, Jokic hit Barton for a layup to go up 45-38 which forced the Hornets into a timeout. They traded missed before Porter got a second offensive rebound to turn into points, but Ball got to the rim with ease and converted a layup through a foul by Jokic before failing the 3-point play.
Barton missed an open triple before Rozier got a 2-point shot to fall. Up by five, Barton got to the rim through a foul and some knee-knocking to convert the shot and send himself to the line where he converted the 3-point play. On the other end, Graham hit a triple to wipe that play away. Barton failed to match him, but Charlotte bailed them out with a turnover. Jokic found Porter for an easy make. Following a miss by Charlotte, Barton and some good ball movement found Murray for an open 3-point shot that gave them a 10-point lead.
Jokic got a putback layup to fall with fewer than 15 seconds remaining before Porter forced a Hornets’ turnover with :2 remaining. Denver led 57-45 heading into halftime thanks to a 7-0 run over the final two minutes of the quarter. They weren’t playing perfectly, but they were doing good enough to get by.
Coming out of the break, Barton knocked down a mid-range jumper to get the scoring rolling. Off a pair of Hornets’ misses, Jokic hit Millsap under the basket for an easy layup. On the other end, Millsap drew a charge on Zeller to get involved on both ends of the floor. Jokic was in the corner for the open 3-point shot, but he went to the layup like a dancing bear for a nifty layup to give him 10 on the night.
The two sides traded turnovers before trading two-point makes by Porter and Rozier. Murray got out in transition for a powerful dunk to stretch the lead to 20. A steal by Murray turned into a second-chance dunk for Porter. On the rebound, Jokic hit his 10th rebound which gave him the franchise-record for double-doubles and put him ahead of Dikembe Mutumbo. Washington hit a 3-point shot out of a Charlotte timeout before Barton missed a triple from the corner. Rozier made a layup in transition, and the Nuggets were getting sloppy with a turnover giving them another empty possession.
Missed 3-point shots by both sides led to some empty minutes before Porter knocked down a heat-check 3-point shot to push the lead back to 20 before Zeller got an easy dunk to fall. Denver snagged a turnover from Charlotte, and Murray got a shot to fall from downtown. Down by 23, Zeller got another layup to fall before Murray hit another 3-point shot, but they gave up a 3-point shot almost immediately which prompted a timeout with Denver leading 80-59 with 5:02 remaining. The two sides traded buckets out of the break including another Denver triple.
Hayward hit a layup, but Murray hit another 3-point shot before Dozier fouled Rozier on a triple. Terry knocked down all three shots at the line, and Jokic converted a big dunk after a near turnover. Jokic hit Dozier on the inbounds pass for an easy layup following a foul by Biyombo. Charlotte finally answered back down by 27, and Jokic was hunting for a triple-double late in the third quarter. Green was fouled under the basket, but he failed to put up a shot in an effort to protect an elevated Hornets’ guard.
Misses by both sides ended when Jokic found Green for a dunk to give him a triple-double with 13 minutes left to play in the game. Barton got his own miss off a 3-point shot, and he was fouled heading to the rim before converting the 3-point play at the line. Turnovers and empty possessions abounded over the final minute of the third quarter that saw Denver head to the final period leading 95-67.
Charlotte went 1-of-2 at the line out of the break, and the two sides were quickly trading buckets when Dozier cashed a triple and forcing a Hornets’ timeout. Charlotte got three points out of the timeout before Dozier turned the ball over with a carry. The two sides traded empty possessions before Barton got his second triple of the night to fall. On the other end, Campazzo snagged a steal and found Porter trailing in transition for a huge dunk.
Down by 32, Ball got a shot to fall through a foul by Campazzo and turned it into a 3-point play at the line. A bad turnover by Denver led to a dunk by Malik Monk and a rapid timeout by Malone. Coming out of the timeout, Porter was fouled which led to a pair of free throws. Jalen McDaniels missed an open 3-point attempt before Porter converted a 3-point shot and turned away before the shot ever went in which stretched the lead back to 30.
Why wait when you know it's going in? pic.twitter.com/54o9yzLLS1— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 18, 2021
Porter turned it over on offense which gave Charlotte an easy make, and Malone was clearing the bench with 7:08 remaining to put in a lineup featuring Campazzo, Dozier, Barton, Nnaji and Vlatko Čančar. Barton was fouled out of the timeout on a 3-point attempt, and he knocked down all three freebies. Dozier knocked down a face-up jumper to put the lead back to 30 with just under 6:00 remaining before Vlatko was called for a shooting foul on the defensive end.
Caleb Martin was called for a foul on Facu, and he went 1-of-2 at the line. The parade to the charity stripe was beginning with Monk getting to the line with 5:20 remaining, and Bol Bol had entered the game along with Markus Howard. Bol quickly poured a high-arching 3-point shot to stretch the lead to 30 once again. Monk hit two more free throws before Bol chucked up a 3-point shot. Nnaji got a shot to fall from inside the arc before McDaniels and Vlatko traded baskets.
Charlotte went 1-of-2 at the line before Monk hit a deep triple over the outstretched arm of Bol. Howard shot a 3-pointer from deep that didn’t go before Martin was fouled and sent to the line for two more free throws. McDaniels hit a triple that brought the Hornets within 22 with 2:00 remaining. Isaiah Hartenstein fouled on a loose ball that gave the Hornets another trip to the charity stripe for the 20th free throws of the quarter after the two sides had combined for 18 through the first three quarters. Martin was fouled on the rebound attempt for two more free throws.
Howard cashed a triple before Vlatko hit Nnaji for an easy alley-oop layup. Bol got a dunk to go that had the whole bench celebrating before he sent a blocked shot flying away. Misses and empty possessions abounded. While the Nuggets were only going to win by 25, this game was not nearly that close. Five players scored in double figures, and four of those five were in the starting lineup. When Denver wins by nearly 30 with Jokic only attempting seven shots, that’s a good night.
Points: Michael Porter Jr. - 28
Assists: Nikola Jokic - 10
Rebounds: Jokic - 10
Player of the Game: Michael Porter Jr. 28 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 11-of-17 field goal, 3-of-6 3-point, 3-of-4 free throw