The Nuggets came out and started on pretty even footing with the Blazers. Jamal Murray started off slow, but Aaron Gordon picked up the slack. He and Jerami Grant were going back and forth for a little bit early on. The Nuggets were having troubles keeping up in spite of that though because the defense still wasn’t good and there were so many turnovers for the Nuggets. It was leading to very easy looks in transition for the Blazers.
Jokic by himself had 5 turnovers in the first quarter (slightly made up for it with 12 points on 7 shots) which led to 8 points for the Blazers. The Nuggets also left 4 points on the free throw line in the opening frame. The Nuggets got outplayed in basically every category, but somehow only found themselves down 6 to end the quarter. The bench didn’t play well in the first quarter, but they would have to do better to bring the game closer before the starters came in in the mid second quarter.
The Nuggets opened the second quarter with a lineup of Bones, Jamal, Christian Braun, Jeff Green, and DeAndre Jordan. Malone subbed Braun in for Vlatko and he made an impact — getting an offensive rebound and attacking off a close out for a nice reverse layup. However, he didn’t fix everything and the bench still didn’t play very well. They allowed a lot of offensive rebounds, including one series where the Blazers got 3 offensive rebounds back-to-back-to-back. The Blazers called an early timeout after Jamal Murray’s first points of the night though, and were only down by 5.
When the team came back from timeout, Bones hit a shot from the graveyard which started a small run for the Nuggets. They cut it to 2, but a turnover on the offensive end and a putback in transition led the lead to get back to 4. Malone called a timeout after that to sub the starters in. Joker found a rhythm and started taking it to the Blazers on offense, finishing the first half with 20, and AG kept the scoring up with 15 points in the first half. Bones stayed in and provided some great shooting too. The defense still wasn’t there, but the Nuggets went into the half only down 1 — 63-64.
Joker is a magician in the paint pic.twitter.com/gaSzXVrXNM— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) December 9, 2022
The second half didn’t start as a pretty one for the Nuggets, Damian Lillard heated up and started knocking in a couple of threes. they couldn’t get their threes to drop in return for the first few minutes, and left some easy points on the table with missed free throws and layups. The deficit got up to 9 at one point. Then the Nuggets cut it down to 3 through a good mixed effort offensively.
However, the Nuggets let up defensively and AG and Jeff Green both had lazy switches onto Damian Lillard which led to easy 3 pointers for him. These threes came on the tail end of a run that found the Nuggets down by 11. The bench would close it out and finish down 10, 89-99.
We have a Joker deep bucket sighting pic.twitter.com/Nr4dvSqAgp— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) December 9, 2022
The final frame wasn’t going much of anywhere for a while. The Nuggets were just trading blows with the Blazers, but weren’t making any progress in cutting the deficit. However, a Murray flurry took place. He drove for an easy layup, and then after Christian Braun drew a charge, Jamal Murray hit two threes with a Bones three in-between for good measure. It cut the lead down to 1.
Afterwards, Joker and AG subbed back in and Joker started scoring well — with a big offensive rebound and putback coming from Christian Braun who played very good minutes tonight. However, the Nuggets struggled to capitalize on defensive stops and the game was trading leads every possession. Damian Lillard hit many shots late, but when it came down to it the two shots that led to the win for the Nuggets were two from Jamal Murray. He scored 14 in the fourth quarter, and 21 on the night. He came up big when it mattered — he’s still him y’all.