The Denver Nuggets started their game off against the Philadelphia 76ers with a quick bucket from Will Barton, but they gave up an easy jumper from Joel Embiid on the other end which he followed up on the next possession. Not to be outdone, Barton, down 4-2, went again from mid-range to tie the game up. With the game tied at four, the teams traded misses for a couple of minutes before Barton was able to get a scoop layup to fall to regain the lead.

Barton continued to torch the net with a heat-check 3-point shot to put them up 9-4 before Ben Simmons stopped the run with an alley-oop layup. Barton got to the bucket again for another layup starting the game 5-of-5 for 11 points. The Nuggets’ defense was containing the Sixers well at the rim, as they had only scored two points at the cup in the first six minutes of the game. Jamal Murray took a spill at the midway point of the first quarter, and he was down in a lot of pain for several minutes clutching at his right hip/side area. He eventually was able to limp to the locker room.

With Murray out of the game, the Nuggets’ defense remained their main weapon against the Sixers who started to sub in some of their bench players, and the Nuggets followed suit. Barton continued his hot shooting as he got out to 6-of-10 from the floor for 15 of the team’s first 19 points. With their backups in, Philly started to go on a run, and they cut the deficit to 19-16 before Michael Malone was forced to call a timeout.

Coming out of the break, they ran a beautiful play to get Mason Plumlee an easy dunk. Philly answered with a big 3-point shot before Embiid was able to tie the game at 21 on the next possession. Mike Scott, on the next Philly possession, nailed a big 3-pointer to give them the lead back. Down 24-23, Denver got very lucky to eventually draw a foul on Embiid after three near-turnovers.

Michael Porter Jr. drew the foul, and he was able to make both of his free-throw attempts to put Denver back in the lead 25-24 with one minute to go. Off of a Plumlee steal, Porter got an easy dunk with 20 seconds left. Winding down the first quarter, Monte Morris fouled Raul Neto, and, off of the inbound, Embiid drew a foul on Porter with three seconds left to give himself some easy points from the free-throw line. Furkan Korkmaz nearly nailed a 3-point shot at the buzzer that would have put Philly back in the lead, but it bounced out with Denver up 27-26.

Coming out of the quarter break, the 76ers weren’t messing around, and they quickly turned their deficit into a four-point lead before Malone called another timeout less than 90 seconds into the quarter. Out of the timeout, Malik Beasley committed a turnover dribbling the ball off of himself, and Korkmaz capitalized with a made 3-pointer to go up by seven. To stop the bleeding, Beasley made a 3-point shot to cut the deficit down to four, but Tobias Harris answered with a 3-pointer on his own.

Jerami Grant was doing his best to keep the game close making his own three. It was announced that Murray’s x-rays were negative on his hip injury. Embiid drew another foul to get to the free-throw line, and he followed it up with a huge block on the defensive end. With the Nuggets’ offense struggling, Philly got out in transition, and they were able to stretch their lead up to 10 points against the Nuggets’ bench. To add insult to injury, Philly nailed a 3-point shot to make their run go 22-6 before Malone called his third timeout.

The starters entered the game, and, after a foul was not called on a Nikola Jokic drive, Malone got his money’s worth on a technical foul. To stop the Denver bleeding was a 3-point shot from Gary Harris at the top of the key, but they were still down by 11. He was then forced to foul Ben Simmons on the other end of the floor to prevent an open layup. Following the free throw, Denver was down 48-36.

Jokic, unable to make an impact on the offensive end, he was able to get a huge block on Harris on defense before drawing his second foul on the other end while setting a screen. Denver then got the lead down to 10, and they were able to force a steal by Millsap, but they gave up an open 3-point shot in transition to rookie Matisse Thybulle that stretched it back to 13 following Harris’ turnover.

Jokic got his first bucket after forcing a turnover by Al Horford when he ran the floor in transition. Barton hadn’t scored in a little while, but he held his ground on Harris to draw a charging foul. This continued his strong defensive play that we’ve seen this year. Following that turnover, Millsap nailed a short jump shot that cut the lead to single digits before Philadelphia called their first timeout.

Denver then forced a turnover, and Harris was able to convert an absolute circus layup while drawing a foul to head to the line where he was able to convert the 3-point play to put the team down six. Embiid eventually stopped the bleeding with a banging layup against Jokic down low. Jokic got a running hook to fall on the other end of the floor despite tight defense. With the defense swarming, Harris was able to sneak in for a foul on Embiid which forced a foul to stop the transition opportunity.

Off of a great Embiid pass, Scott got a nifty layup to fall behind Millsap. Down by eight, the two teams traded misses before Barton got a big block on Korkmaz, and Monte Morris followed it up with a 3-point shot to cut the deficit to five. On the other end, Embiid was called for a blatant push off that gave him his third foul with 30 seconds remaining. Jokic put up a late 3-point shot that did not fall, and the Nuggets went into the half trailing 55-50 thanks to a defensive surge that helped to cut the lead in a major way.

At the end of the first half, the main takeaway for Denver was their defense. They started forcing a ton of turnovers that helped to spur their run and get them back into the game. For Philly, it was all about the transition. When they were out and running, there wasn’t anything that Denver could do to stop them.

Out of halftime, Tobias Harris was able to get to the basket for an easy layup following a loose ball off of Simmons. Jokic got the bucket back on the other end to give him six points and six assists. Embiid went to work on the other end to get his 16th point on the night on 6-of-11 shooting before Millsap got his own layup. Off of a Barton steal, Denver got out on the fast break for an easy Morris layup that put Denver down by three.

Jokic was able to nail a 3-point shot that tied the game up at 59, but he fouled Simmons on the other end on a putback attempt. Simmons missed both of his free throws, and, a few possessions later, Jokic hit a beautiful cross-court pass to Barton to put the Nuggets back in the lead 62-59. It was announced that Murray was still not out for the game, but he had yet to return to the floor. With Denver on a 10-0 run, Millsap got a nifty layup at the bucket over his old teammate Horford. Philadelphia eventually stopped the run with a bucket from Horford.

However, following that bucket, Denver got a wide-open layup for Jokic on the other end to put them up by five. Following a Philadelphia timeout, Harris nailed a wide-open 3-point shot to put the 76ers down by two. Gary Harris got an easy layup to stretch the lead back to four, but Philadelphia cut the lead to just one on a James Ennis III 3-pointer. Jokic, after being passive for much of the first quarter, was able to get up to 13 points with nine of them in the third quarter.

Down by one, Harris went after Torrey Craig for a bucket that put them back in the lead by one. After missing his first four 3-point shots, Horford nailed an open one that put the 76ers up by four and force a timeout out of Malone. After a couple of traded misses, Gary knocked down a mid-range jumper to cut the lead to two before Ennis got a put-back layup for two.

Horford, off of his own miss, got a big dunk that brought the crowd to their feet. Horford kept it rolling as he was able to get another make to push the lead to eight. Craig stopped the 76ers run with a layup off of a Jokic pass. On the other end, Grant got a big block on Horford, and he almost had another before he was called for a foul. Tobias stretched the lead to seven as he went 1-of-2 from the line.

After an ugly possession by Denver, Philadelphia did the same, and Craig was able to go all the way to the other end for a bucket. He followed it up with a big block on Tobias on the other end of the floor. Following the block out of bounds, Embiid got an absolute circus layup to fall while being fouled as he was falling away from the basket. The third quarter ended with Denver down 76-83.

Following the quarter break, Barton got an easy bucket at the rim to cut the deficit to six. The team was trading misses before Joel got a long two to fall. Porter got a number of shots quite close, but he was struggling to get them to fall. Up by eight, Josh Richardson got his first shot to fall that put the 76ers up by 10 with about nine minutes to go. Barton made one of his two free throws, and Beasley made a floater on the next possession to put them down seven.

After being close on a number of attempts, MPJ was able to get a dunk to fall following a slick pass from Barton that put the team down by five and force a Philadelphia timeout. Following the timeout, the Nuggets were able to force a miss by Tobias Harris, and Barton cut the lead to three on a layup where he was fouled for a chance at a 3-point play. He was able to convert, and Denver was now down two with seven minutes remaining.

Thybulle stopped Denver’s 8-0 run with an open 3-point shot, and Denver was unable to match on back-to-back possessions. With five minutes remaining, Denver’s starters were in, and they were looking to regain the lead. Philly wouldn’t allow that though with a bucket to keep their lead extended. Barton and Tobias traded buckets with the lead at seven. With four minutes remaining, Brown called a timeout to get a play drawn up and get his best lineup back in the game.

After a few misses, Jokic forced an Embiid turnover, and a delay of game was called on them as well. After a Gary Harris miss, Tobias had a near-make that became a turnover, and the Nuggets were bailed out by a Simmons foul on the other end late in the shot clock. Down by seven with less than two minutes remaining, Harris went 2-of-2 at the line to put them down by five.

On the next possession, Denver’s defense put the clamps on again to force a shot-clock violation. Following a near-Barton turnover, he did turn it over underneath the basket. After a wild possession with a questionable shot-clock reset, Denver had the ball with less than 30 seconds remaining and they were down by five. Following the timeout, Denver got the ball in, and Jokic drove all the way to the basket for a layup to put the team down by three with 18.9 remaining.

The Nuggets were missing Murray in a major way because of his scoring ability, and the way that he has played in the clutch this season. Out of the timeout, Denver committed a pair of quick fouls to send Embiid to the line. He made both of them to put Philly up by five. Barton nearly made a 3-point shot on the other end, but it rimmed out. The 76ers remained undefeated at home to win 97-92.

Stat Leaders

Points: Will Barton – 26

Rebounds: Barton & Nikola Jokic – 7

Assists: Jokic – 11

Player of the Game: Will Barton 26 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks