The Denver Nuggets proved that despite injuries to major pieces of their rotation, they still have an incredible amount of depth. Jusuf Nurkic led the bench unit who in turn led the team to a victory against the Washington Wizards. The Bosnian Beast had 17 points and four members of the bench overall would score in double figures as the Nuggets outlasted the Wizards who were on a back to back and get the victory, 116-100.

The game opened with a Markieff Morris airball and Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris carryied the scoring load early for the Nuggets while the Wizards executed their high paced offense to keep the game close. A couple of costly turnovers on Denver’s part gave Washington some easy transition points and the Wizards went on a 12-4 run to take a 17-14 lead. When the benches for both teams started checking in the pace quickened and the Nuggets got back in front. Old friend Nene was contributing big time for the Wizards on both ends of the court but Denver’s bench was playing well and closed the quarter with a four point lead.

The second quarter opened with Denver's full reserve unit and what they lacked in scoring ability they were making up for with good defense. Unfortunately, turnovers were an early killer for Denver which prevented them for gaining an early double digit advantage. Nurkic checked in around the 8 minute mark and quickly recorded a blocked shot and an offensive rebound but picked up three fouls in nearly as many minutes and the Nuggets continued to struggle with turnovers. With under four minutes to go in the half the game was tied at forty. The teams traded baskets down the stretch, highlighted by a monster alley oop finish by the Manimal, and the half closed with the Nuggets leading 52-50.

The Nuggets opened the second half much like they had played the first half, sloppy and turning the ball over which allowed the Wizards to pull ahead. Both teams struggled to score at the beginning of the half and midway through the third the Wizards clung to a slim lead. Wall was quietly having a big night and he made a pair of plays to put Washington ahead by five. Joffrey Lauvergne took a nasty elbow to the brow which sent him to the locker room as the Wizards expanded their lead to double digits and Nurkic was called upon again. He drew fouls on three straight possessions and his presence down low helped close the gap slightly as the third quarter came to a close but overall it was a terrible quarter for Denver.

Nurkic opened the fourth quarter with a mean rejection of J.J. Hickson and he continued his good play from the previous quarter. For the Wizards though Wall was having a big night as the offense ran through him. The Nuggets bench overall though was giving the Nuggets a huge boost. Nurkic threw down a pair of slams and they regained the lead for the Nuggets just before the midway point of the quarter. The reserves continued to harass the Wizards on defense and force turnovers for easy points on the other end which allowed Denver to increase their lead. Coach Malone stuck with the bench down the stretch and they played outstanding. Nurkic was a force down low and D.J. Augustin, Barton and Darrell Arthur all had big nights scoring. The lead quickly got to double digits and beofre you knew it the game was over.

Via An Nguyen of BSN Denver

Key matchup: John Wall vs Emmanuel Mudiay

Both guys were effective tonight. Wall looked to distribute more than Mudiay and overall he had the bigger night of the two. The stats are heavily in favor of Wall but he also played the end of the game where as the Nuggets went with their reserve unit to close it out. Wall showed again tonight why he is such a dynamic player and if Mudiay ever does end up becoming a comparable player then that will be and excellent thing for Denver

Key thing to watch for: Can Jusuf Nurkic go for more than 4 minutes?

Nurkic looks like he might be due for some extra minutes in the future. After Jokic got into foul trouble, Lauvergne took an elbow to the face and immediately went back to the locker room. Coach Malone had no choice but to put in Nurkic and in return he was rewarded with a huge performance from the big man. Nurkic was great on both sides of the court. He had a couple of big time rejections and converted both in the paint and at the free throw line on offense. If Lauvergne's injury is serious then Nurkic should have an excellent opportunity to end an otherwise forgettable season on a high note.

Closing thought: Chemistry is no longer an issue

As the Nuggets bench unit took the lead and closed the game out all of the starters were cheering as loud as they could from the bench. It was great to see coach Malone ride the hot hand and it was even greater to see that hot hand be Nurkic. After a home stand highlighted by big time production from the starting unit when they found themselves trailing by double digits in the third the team did a complete role reversal and leaned on their depth to get it done. Great win for Denver and hopefully this momentum will carry into the upcoming road trip.

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