The Denver Nuggets faced the Brooklyn Nets for the second game of their three game east coast road trip. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray had big games and every bit of it was needed as the Nets got big efforts from Cam Thomas and Cameron Johnson. Denver jumped ahead early before Brooklyn responded to take back the lead. Ultimately Denver was able to grind away in the second half and earn a hard fought victory. Certainly wasn’t the prettiest of games but the type of game a championship team wins and that’s just what the Nuggets did, 122-117.

Michael Porter Jr. opened the scoring for the Nuggets with three of their first four baskets. That got Denver a small lead. Brooklyn kept pace to start but went cold on offense and had to take a timeout with the Denver lead up to seven with just over seven minutes to play in the first quarter. The Nuggets pushed it up to nine before some sloppy play shifted the momentum back to Brooklyn and let them get on a small run and find their stroke. The Nuggets got some offense from Jokic but it was offset by Brooklyn starting to knock down threes. They rode their hot hands down the stretch of the quarter and were able to seize the lead once the benches came in. It went back and forth to close and at the end of one quarter it was 28 all.

The Nuggets full bench unit was in to start the second quarter. They struggled to score and Brooklyn went on a run. They were up seven before Peyton Watson hit a three for Denver’s first bucket of the quarter almost two minutes in. Denver found some offense after that but Thomas got some buckets to keep the Nets in front. Denver’s starters came in shortly after that with the Nuggets still trailing by six. They promptly went on a 6-0 run and tied the game. The Nets continued to have an answer for Denver though. This time it was Daeron Sharpe who was scoring in the paint and drawing fouls. Joker got more assertive with the half coming to a close but the Nuggets couldn’t get stops and Brooklyn stayed in the lead. The game was still tight at the end of the half with the Nuggets trailing 60-58.

The Nuggets looked sluggish to start the second half but they were able to draw fouls. Brooklyn stayed in front by a small margin by finding easy baskets from pushing the pace. After that there was a duel of three pointers which made Michael Malone take a timeout four minutes into the half with the Nuggets down four. Denver kept refusing to let Brooklyn build a lead and ultimately were able to tie the game just about halfway through the quarter after a Jokic and-one. The defenses tightened up a bit but neither team was able to take a significant lead. It was a tie game when the reserves started to check in. Malone still kept most of the starters on the floor which let the Nuggets stay in front with a small lead while the quarter winded down. Denver was up six when Jokic checked out. Unsurprisingly, the full bench unit struggled to score again and the Nuggets lead was down to 88-86 at the end of the third quarter.

It wasn’t quite as bad to start the fourth quarter but the Nuggets couldn’t keep the Nets off the offensive glass. Still, the bench had just enough offense to keep in front of Brooklyn early in the fourth. With seven and a half minutes to go Zeke Nnaji committed a bad foul and gave Thomas three free throws which put the lead back on the Nets side. He was the primary option for Brooklyn on offense but Jokic was back in to hopefully restore order. The rest of the starters joined him at the six minute mark with the Nuggets still trailing by one. Johnson and Thomas offset Jokic’s offense so the Nets stayed a bucket ahead of Denver down the stretch. Denver got the lead back with just over two minutes left on a Jokic layup as the game headed to a tight finish. It went back and forth with Denver looking to Murray in the clutch. He put them up three with under a minute to go and then found Watson for a dunk plus the foul to push the lead to five and the Nets were on life support. Unfortunately, Watson gave them that support on the next possession by fouling Thomas on a three point attempt that he nailed. Despite leading by only one, the Nuggets executed the free throw game to close it out and escape Brooklyn with a 122-117 win.