The Denver Nuggets protected the home court in tonight’s preseason game against the Bulls – even though the game was not at Pepsi Center. Playing way out in Boulder at the Coors Events Center, the Nuggets bench was the star of the show in a 112-94 victory. Denver’s reserves put up 65 points, outscoring the Bulls bench 32-10 in the first half when the Nuggets raced out to a 57-34 halftime lead.

Nikola Mirotic was the only Bulls starter in double figures with 18 points but even his efforts couldn’t stem the tide for Chicago. Whenever the Bulls would try to get back into it, Denver would fight right back with 3’s (8-for-26, but Johnson and Pecherov were 0-6 late in the game when it was already decided). Denver had 44 points in the paint and turned Chicago over 22 times. Almost everything came up roses in a game against an opponent not yet in fighting shape or ready to run and move the ball for 48 minutes like they want to – especially at altitude.

Three quick takeaways from the game:

The vets are pretty good. Mike Miller was 3-for-6 from beyond the arc and looked like he’d been training with us all offseason instead of just the past 10 days, dishing out 5 dimes in the process. Jameer Nelson had 7 points and 7 assists against just one TO while leading the bench to those tremendous numbers. Danilo Gallinari put in 12 points in 22 minutes and Will Barton led the team in minutes while attacking ferociously – sometimes recklessly – to score 17 points with 3 rebounds and 4 steals. But he didn’t lead the team in scoring because…

The kids are pretty good too. Joffrey Lauvergne led all scorers with 18 points and grabbed another 8 boards. Nikola Jokic surprised the Bulls announcers with his 14 points and 5 rebounds, and Gary Harris hit a few threes late to bump his line up to 11 points and 5 boards after a tough middle stretch. He gave as good as he got against Jimmy Butler earlier in the game though – that counts for something. Emmanuel Mudiay got his turnovers under control for the game even though he had a quiet scoring night. All in all, there was a lot to love about the youth performance in this game.

The DNPs might be telling. J.J. Hickson’s minutes have fallen precipitously in every game, winding up at zero tonight. Maybe that was just to get a look at some other players, but when Pecherov can get 7 minutes to toss up every shot he can find (fruitlessly I might add) then maybe it’s something a little more pointed. Erick Green had to watch Nick Johnson take his minutes again and not do a lot with them – again. Either they’re trying to get someone to bite on a Nick Johnson trade and he’s just not helping their cause… or Green is in trouble.

Full recap coming in the morning. In the meantime – enjoy the victory! The Nuggets have a winning record now in the exhibition season. I love the smell of winning in the morning. It smells like… optimism.

Reminder: Stiffs Night Out Season Kickoff 10/28
Please join us for the next Stiffs Night Out on Wednesday, October 28th at 6pm as the Nuggets take on the Rockets in Houston to kickoff the 2015-16 NBA season. The event will take place at Jake’s Sports & Spirits at 3800 Walnut Street and Jake’s will be serving happy hour drinks until 7pm and 50-cent wings all night long! We will also play Nuggets trivia for prizes, including Nuggets game tickets. See you on the 28th!