The Denver Nuggets have avoided the play-in tournament and in turn, get an extra few days of rest before they take on the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. To cover some of the dreaded downtime with no Nikola Jokić/Nuggets basketball, I’ve put together 15 of my favorite highlights of the season. Some of my personal favorite nights/moments of the 2021-22 season.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way, headband Nikola Jokić was a treat. After suffering an inadvertent blow to the head, which led to lots of bleeding, Jokić put on a red headband to finish the game. He finished his historical night with 35 points to go with 16 boards and topped it off with a Sombor Shuffle as soon as he checked back into the game with the headband.
With Nikola Jokić sitting out with a “Non-Covid Illness”, DeMarcus Cousins got his first start in a Nuggets uniform. Boogie had his first 30 point game since January of 2018. He finished with 31 points, 9 rebounds, 3 made 3 pointers, and all in only 24 minutes. Boogie quickly grew to be a fan favorite and I personally hope he finds a way back on the roster next season.
Calling those SKILLZ OKAY BOOGIE pic.twitter.com/Dcl0e1MRvD— x - Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 5, 2022
Monte Morris was put into the starting lineup with Jamal Murray missing the whole regular season. While he didn’t flourish, he still played like Mr. Nugget. Big Game Tae’ came through in the clutch numerous times, even if it didn’t always result in a win Monte’s season peaked when he hit a game-winning and buzzer-beating three in Golden State. When will teams learn to not send two to the Joker?
Big. Game. Tae.— x - Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 17, 2022
BUZZER BEATER W. pic.twitter.com/DUZpx8ZRvL
Aaron Gordon played a huge role as the primary on-ball defender for the Nuggets this year, he also contributed highly to the offense. AG finished this season as the second-leading scorer for the Nuggets. Gordon had many highlight dunks this year but nothing compares to his game-winning corner 3 versus the Los Angeles Clippers. We all know how good of a passer Nikola Jokić is, but this clip really summarizes it all.
The pass— x - Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 20, 2022
FOR. THE. WIN. pic.twitter.com/UPyoBfPqbK
I cannot mention that Clippers game without mentioning what else Nikola Jokić did in that game. He finished with a season-high 49 points to go with 14 rebounds and 10 assists. But most important of all, he led the Nuggets to a win with, in my opinion, the best pass of Nikola’s career. Every MVP needs that Holy Sh*t moment and this game was the Jokers’ one. The way he dominated the game down the stretch is truly something magnificent to watch.
Jokic went OFF to lead his Nuggets to a thrilling OT win— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 20, 2022
Catch the re-air of Clippers vs. Nuggets today at 4pm ET on NBA TV! pic.twitter.com/YjrsQkf4PX
Few Nuggets have been as polarizing as Facu Campazzo has been this season. No matter what you think of his basketball talent you have to appreciate what he was able to do on January 1 versus the Houston Rockets. Campazzo set his career-high with 22 points and had this spectacular play versus Kevin Porter Jr, as well as a nutmeg assist minutes prior. KPJ left the arena at halftime after an altercation with the coaching staff during this game. I wonder if Facu had anything to do with that...
this angle >>>— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 2, 2022
almost put KPJ to sleep and then made Nwaba do the Macarenapic.twitter.com/bAcnsKHZvv
Will Barton became the all-time leader in 3’s made by a Denver Nugget this season. While him getting the actual record-breaking shot might’ve been a little bit ugly, Thrill is still the all-time leader. Will Barton is the longest-tenured Nugget and he deserves this record for everything he has given this organization, Jamal is coming for that title soon though.
Will the Thrill and now the King of 3s pic.twitter.com/t8xnHVZ9tP— x - Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 5, 2022
Bones Hyland had many highlight moments in his rookie campaign, but none reigns above his career-high 27 points versus the Los Angeles Lakers. Bones had quite a few times with 15+ points in a quarter and completely blew away any one of our expectations for a rookie. His off-dribble 3 point shooting is remarkable. He is a truly special talent and I can't wait to see him develop as a player.
Also in that Lakers game, Davon Reed had his best moment of the season in my opinion. Reed played the season on a two-way contract and whenever he was given an opportunity, he took it. When the Nuggets took on the Lakers, Reed was tasked with defending LeBron at times. Reed loved that matchup and clamped up James a few separate times. It’s a shame Davon isn’t on the playoff roster.
Jeff Green was a very welcome addition to this season’s Nuggets team. He started in 63 games and averaged 10 points, his feel for knowing where to be on the court leads him to getting open dunks often. Green lives off of dunks and quite often will throw one down on top of someone who is under the rim. Jeff Green also doesn't hesitate to put his body on the line and will routinely try to draw charges, having no MPJ sucks but Jeff Green is a pretty good replacement.
Jeff Green is somehow still good for one of these sneaky posters per game 15 years later. pic.twitter.com/dxrkZeny6N— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) October 5, 2021
Nikola Jokić also became the first player in NBA history to record 2000 points, 1000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a season. He also had the most steals, blocks, 2 point shots made, triple doubles, and free throws in his career this season. Jokić also recorded the least amount of fouls in his career. All but securing his second MVP in the process. It’s an honor to be existing at the same time as MVP Nikola Jokić.
Last night, Nikola Jokic became the first player since Bob McAdoo in 1975 to record 35 points and 15 rebounds in four straight games.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 8, 2022
Jokic has now eclipsed 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 500 assists this season. He's the first player to do so in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/gUuXckaRk8
A highlight for the Nuggets as well as the city of Denver was eliminating the Los Angeles Lakers from playoff contention. After being eliminated from the bubble playoffs at the hands of the Lakers as well as being eliminated from playoff contention by Westbrook in 2017, eliminating the Lakers feels good. Would've felt better if it was the last game of the season that matters but, oh well.
Bones Hyland became the Nuggets rookie season leader in 3 pointers made with 131 made, passing Jamal Murray’s record of 115. I doubt anyone needed any more reasons to love Bones but there it is if you need one. Bones had played his way from getting DNPs into possibly being a future franchise cornerstone player. He will likely finish with 2nd team All-Rookie honors, being the first Nugget since Jamal Murray to make a team.
Etched in Nuggets history.— x - Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 25, 2022
Nikola Jokić also put together the best defensive season of his career. Jokić had 3 game-saving blocks and as I said earlier, the most blocks and steals of his career with the least amount of fouls. Long gone are the days of Jokić being a slow/bad defender. He not only had 3 game-winning blocks, but he also had too many well defended possessions that ended up winning Denver the game to count.
Nikola Jokic with his 3rd game-winning block of the year. 28 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks for Jokic as Denver takes down Toronto on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) February 13, 2022
what an ending in Denver. Nuggets come back late and Nikola Jokic comes through with the game-saving block at the buzzer. pic.twitter.com/81Hr5QOkwm— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) November 6, 2021
On the subject of game-winning blocks, Will Barton had one of his own versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was the 6th game of the season and winning this rivalry game in such a fashion gave the Nuggets a morale boost. Playing that way and never giving up had an impact on the team all season long, and it was all kicked off by this Will Barton block.