What was your favorite part of the 2021-22 Denver Nuggets season?
For me, it was the Denver Nuggets overtime victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 19th. Not only did Nikola Jokic record a 49 point, 14 rebound, and 10 assist triple-double, but his final assist came on Aaron Gordon’s game winning three-pointer in overtime. Following Gordon’s three-pointer, Davon Reed charged the floor to celebrate, which subsequently resulted in a technical foul since there was still time on the clock. This gave the Clippers a chance to get within two points, but luckily they missed their final shot following the free-throw. The Nuggets were still able to hold on and it really felt like the turning point for Jokic and his quest for another MVP trophy.
The Monte Morris game-winner in Golden State gets my vote. It was Denver’s last game before the All-Star break, and many teams pack it in a little early before the break. It’s only human nature. Yet, the Nuggets did not do that and demonstrated resolve in one of the NBA’s most formidable arenas. Denver was up by one with 14 seconds left when Steph Curry nailed an and-one mid-range jumper. The crowd erupted as many thought the game was over with Golden State up two with six seconds left.
Denver had one more card up their sleeve with the great Nikola Jokic and Big Game Tae’ Monte Morris. They isolated Jokic on the block, he drove into the paint for a hook shot, but he saw the double coming, and with one second left, he tossed it to Morris for the buzzer-beater. Moments like those are the most exciting because they’re unpredictable, and the reaction after the buzzer-beater is the cherry on top. I definitely jumped up and down yelling in elation, and I hope you did too.
There were many moments in the 2022 season that could be considered my favorite. But if I have to narrow it down to just one memory that outweighed the rest, I’d have to go with February 25th, the day the Nuggets signed DeMarcus Cousins for the rest of the season. There were a lot of highs and lows in this season but I found DeMarcus’ journey with this team quite compelling.
I felt like DeMarcus filled the gap of passion and an intensity that Jamal Murray typically filled. I enjoyed watching Boogie and Bones create a two man game that completely electrified Ball Arena and then he gave us a glimpse of the player we should’ve watched in multiple playoff opportunities. It wasn’t a singular moment per se, rather a decision to give DeMarcus a chance to win over fans in Denver and make a new name for himself.
One of my favorite games of the season was on March 6th against the New Orleans Pelicans at home. The game had a weird feel to it, as the Nuggets had a big lead at the end of the first quarter but then lost the next two quarters pretty badly. However, Nikola Jokic absolutely took over in the fourth quarter in one of the most dominating performances of his career. He ended up hitting two free throws to tie the game with a little over 3 seconds left to miraculously force overtime despite the fact that the Nuggets were down 11 with 3.5 minutes left.
Jokic finished with 46 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds, and had 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Nuggets won the game 138-130 and it was by far one of the best games I’ve seen in person. I think this game perfectly encapsulates both the good and the bad of the season. The undermanned Nuggets were carried by their MVP once again. While it sometimes got to be too much to watch the team struggle without their second and third best players, it never got old watching Jokic put the team on his back and carry the Nuggets to a win.
It has to be March 14th against the Philadelphia 76ers. The whole roster came to the aide of Nikola Jokić when he needed it most. While Jokić had an MVP season all year, this head-to-head with Joel Embiid really locked it in for the Joker. The Harden-Simmons trade had gone down just recently and several people were labeling the 76ers as serious contenders at the time, this game put a lot of that to rest. How could we forget that Bones Hyland performance?
Since that 76ers game seems to be a popular choice here's my honorable mention, New Year’s Day versus the Houston Rockets. This game might've been one a lot of Nuggets fans missed but those who were there were treated to something special. The most controversial Nugget in recent years, Facu Campazzo, had his best game of the season. He scored a career-high 22 points with 12 assists, he also managed to record quite a few highlight plays in that game. Personally, the best moment out of that game was when Kevin Porter Jr. got crossed up by Facu shortly before halftime and ended up leaving the arena after an argument with Coach Silas at halftime. While we don't know exactly what caused the altercation, I like to think it was cause Facu was cooking him that bad. Facu will likely not be part of the team next season, but, that moment will be what I remember him for. (also the +/- and Ryan dealing with everything that came with it).
It has to be 2,000 | 1,000 | 500 right? A seemingly insignificant statistical benchmark turned into quite the spectacle on April 7th against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Nuggets needed to win the game to make the playoffs, and after pushing out to a big lead in the first half, it was pretty clear that the Nuggets were going to clinch a playoff spot with one game to go.
But there was a completely separate game going on within the game. Jokić needed 31 points to join the aforementioned statistical club and become its only member, a major bullet point for an MVP resumé already dripping with statistical gems. The Grizzlies did everything they could to stop him, but in the end, Jokić crossed the 2,000 point threshold and was serenaded with some of the loudest cheers he’s ever received at Ball Arena. It was an incredible moment, and selfishly, it was the best moment I’ve ever had at Ball Arena. I had people shaking my hand and congratulating me for unearthing that gem. Hell, even the Nuggets Twitter account credited me.
And he did it all in a red headband.
In an effort to be a little different from everyone else, my favorite part of the season was Denver’s Game 4 win over the Golden State Warriors. They ultimately lost the series in a close Game 5, but, for the first time in months, the NBA world recognized Jokic and the effort he had put in to keep this team competitive all season long.
Jokic is and was deserving of winning the MVP award again this season. I don’t think another player could have kept this team in the playoff conversation this season, and Jokic showed up with 37 points in an elimination game when everyone had completely written them off and said the series was already over. Denver didn’t win the series but watching the NBA world recognize Jokic’s individual greatness made the season coming to an end a little sweeter.
I think that my favorite moment of the season is a bit hard to pin down. This season largely felt like a blur, and though there were moments in large brush strokes it was a very foggy and downcast season. You know how the saying goes though, every cloud has a silver lining; and that silver lining for me was the Game 4 win over the Golden State Warriors. That one game, while small on a bigger scale, felt big for the entire city of Denver. The first two games of that series were so bleak, and in a entertainment sense fell flat. It sent a lot of fans, me included, into questioning a lot of things about the team. However, the team fought back and fought hard in the rest of the series. It gave a lot of fans hope that the future is not as bleak as those first two games made it look. We saw Nikola Jokic’s greatness, Bones Hyland’s sky high potential, Aaron Gordon bouncing back, and a Will Barton playoff moment. It was a lot of what Denver fans could ask for in one game.