The Denver Nuggets’ Aaron Gordon continues to roll on with another win over the Philadelphia 76ers’ to sweep the season series. The team came out shooting flamethrowers with a 44-point first-quarter doubling up the 76ers in the first period. While Gordon didn’t put up a ton of offensive production, the team’s big three more than made up for it en route to a 104-95 win in their first home matchup of the season that featured fans.
Jamal is busting out the tricks early tonight pic.twitter.com/3G3QmmLKra— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 31, 2021
Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were rolling early tonight in the two-man game with a slick behind-the-back feed giving Jokic an easy dunk at the rim. From there, the rest of the first period was all Denver, and they weren’t trying to let Philly get any closer if they were going to help it. The two main culprits for protecting that early lead were Murray and Michael Porter Jr., who poured in 38 points in the first half.
Jamal and MPJ combined for 38 POINTS in the first half! pic.twitter.com/3rYRP5NKLv— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 31, 2021
With the lead hovering right around 20 late in the second quarter, we got to see Gordon put his hops on display again when he and Murray got out on the break. A rebound from Porter went to Murray just past halfcourt before Murray sent the lob flying in the direction of Gordon who threw down a huge dunk to stretch the lead up to 23 which got the fans inside Ball Arena firmly up on their feet.
Denver was up big for much of the third quarter, but a late run allowed the 76ers’ to close what was once a 25-point lead down to 17 to end the quarter. That late run continued into the fourth quarter with the 76ers eventually getting within eight with under a minute remaining after getting within 10 with a few minutes left. When Porter, Jokic and Murray combine for 75 points, you’re going to have a lot more wins than you have losses, but the game never should have been as close as it ended up being.
Denver’s passing made a huge difference in this one with 26 assists on 39 made shots, and the majority of those unassisted baskets came from Murray when he went to work on his own to prop up the team’s offense. The team needs to work on their ability to take care of the ball as they had 19 turnovers in the game, and nine of those came from the four reserves. They also need to be able to tread water better when the starters are not on the floor. That negative run between the third and fourth quarter resulted in Jokic, Murray, Porter and Will Barton all being forced back into the game to ice it. If it weren’t for that huge first-quarter lead, Denver loses this game as they were outscored by 14 points in the second half.
Denver now sits at 29-18, and they are really putting the pressure on the top four teams in the conference as they are hovering just behind the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers. Speaking of the Clippers, Denver heads to LA on Thursday to take on the star-studded squad.
Points: Jamal Murray - 30
Assists: Will Barton - 6
Rebounds: Michael Porter Jr. - 12
Player of the Game: Michael Porter Jr. 27 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 11-of-16 field goal, 5-of-7 3-point, 0-of-2 free throw