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Recap: Nuggets extinguish Thunder behind all-around performance from starters

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The Nuggets needed this one

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets demolished the Oklahoma City Thunder in a wire-to-wire blowout on Saturday night, winning 126-96 behind an assortment of great performances from the starters and members of the bench. Jamal Murray led all scorers with 26 points, shooting 9-of-15 from the field and adding five assists. Nikola Jokić racked up a triple-double with 19 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds on 8-of-10 from the field himself.

Michael Porter Jr. was the early story of this game, scoring 14 points and adding four rebounds in the first quarter alone. Some of the shots he was making were ridiculous, and he chipped in quality defense along the way. The second-year forward finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes, putting together possibly his best performance of the season from an all-around perspective.

Monte Morris and Will Barton were also very good filling in the gaps. They combined for 28 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds, doing so in complementary roles around Denver’s top three scorers, and they looked very comfortable doing it.

I’m going to do the recap a little differently tonight. I took brief notes from each quarter and also included takeaways at the bottom. Enjoy all of it!


1st Quarter

  • Starters were excellent on both ends to begin this game, with great drives and cuts by Monte Morris and Will Barton
  • Michael Porter Jr. had the best quarter of his career, even hitting some ambitious three-point shots after gaining a rhythm. 14 points and 4 rebounds in 1st quarter alone
  • Jamal Murray had it going throughout as well
  • Nikola Jokić played a versatile offensive game and just facilitated the drives, cuts, and shots from others

2nd Quarter

  • Bench was not ready to come in and make an impact.
  • PJ Dozier made some decent plays but still needs to get back up to game speed
  • Isaiah Hartenstein continues to struggle in space on both ends
  • Starters returned and put pressure on the Thunder again
  • Jokić struggled defensively in space, but it didn’t matter that much

3rd Quarter

  • Jamal Murray kicks things off with a three, has been scoring steady in each quarter
  • Jokic continues to pass players open, hits on his triple-double from post to a cutting Will Barton. Extremely efficient performance
  • Monte Morris and Will Barton having good games overall. Not 100% success rate on drives but way better than against WAS
  • PJ Dozier made an impact toward the end
  • Blowout by this point

4th Quarter

  • Jamal Murray started the quarter, hit some threes, and exited with 26 points
  • Facundo Campazzo wrecked the OKC passing lanes in this quarter, just preying on young guards and decision makers who weren’t ready for him
  • Lots of garbage time ensued, but a big R.J. Hampton dunk
  • First Greg Whittington minutes of the season

Big Takeaways

The best game of the season for Michael Porter Jr.

The progression of Michael Porter Jr. over these last few games has been exactly what the Denver Nuggets needed to see. Though the entire group has been up and down and Porter has been far from perfect, the 22-year-old forward has looked more and more like the versatile scoring, athletic prospect the Nuggets were hoping for him to be. Tonight was the capstone moment so far: 20 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes don’t really represent just how efficient and effective he was on both ends to start this game. It may not have been his best statistical performance, but his engagement and execution level on both ends of the floor was very impressive.

The starting unit played exactly how they’re supposed to on both ends

Nikola Jokić was the orchestrator, but the ball moved around between him, Porter, Murray, Morris, and Barton in a fluid, organic way. Jokić finished this game with 13 assists, a byproduct of Denver hitting so many shots in rhythm of his passes. Morris and Barton did a good job slashing to the rim. Porter and Murray were excellent behind the arc and on jump shots. In addition, they combined for strong team defense, forcing the Thunder to attempt jumpers that they couldn’t make.

Good to see PJ Dozier back

The Nuggets have missed Dozier. He’s Denver’s most versatile guard, spending time at shooting guard, small forward, and power forward, all while having the playmaking skills and facilitation of a decent point guard. He looked rusty out there to start, but he quickly found the next gear. I think he will be a major part of Denver’s playoff run if they can remain consistent enough for that.

Final Rotations