The Denver Nuggets did what they had been doing earlier in the year against the Houston Rockets, and they had 41 points in the first quarter. In three matchups between these two sides this year, Denver had scored 40 or more in all three first periods. They were led in large part by Jamal Murray, who had 16 points during his minutes on the floor, and he had started 6-of-8 in this one. Denver’s lead was north of 15 near the end of the first, but the second unit entered late in the first and slowly started to fade. They would eventually enter the second quarter leading 41-30.

In the second quarter, the second unit continued to struggle. That large lead gradually dwindled down to six on multiple occasions. Eventually, Denver’s starters returned to the game, and they steadily regained their control. Murray continued his hot start, and they got some strong play out of Bruce Brown in the second period as well. Murray had 23 in the first half, and they were leading 74 to 54 heading into the half.

In the third quarter, the two sides saw the score continue to go in opposite directions. The starters came out for the Nuggets, and they were absolutely laying it on early on in the quarter. However, in the final minutes of the quarter, the second unit came in, and the Rockets were able to crawl back into the game a bit. A couple of late Nuggets buckets, including a buzzer-beater triple from Brown, gave Denver a 106-84 lead at the end of the third.

To start the final quarter, the Nuggets’ second unit was still struggling on both ends of the floor. They weren’t getting stops with consistency on defense, and, on the other end, their offense just wasn’t flowing. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope entered the game, and he quickly knocked down a pair of triples as the Nuggets were working on putting this game away. Nikola Jokic had totaled another triple-double, and the Nuggets were now about to reach 44-19 on the year. Last season, the Nuggets didn’t win the 44th game until May 1st. After a high volume of minutes on Sunday, it was great for the starters to get some rest late in this one with the reserves playing a ton of minutes in the final period en route to a 133-112 win.

Stat Leaders

Points: Jamal Murray – 32

Assists: Nikola Jokic – 10

Rebounds: Jokic – 11

Player of the Game: Jamal Murray – 32 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 12-of-18 field goal, 5-of-10 3-point, 3-of-3 free throw