The Denver Nuggets came into tonight on a mini two game winning streak and were looked to extend it against a Brooklyn Nets team that was on the second night of a back to back. The Nets hung around for a while but started to fall behind in the second quarter before Denver blew the game wide open in the third. Nikola Jokic recorded another triple double and Denver got a strong performance off the bench from Peyton Watson. Spencer Dinwiddie did what he could for the Nets and it was a solid night for Nic Claxton but the Nets looked disinterested in playing a basketball game pretty much from the jump. Nuggets win this one going away 124-101.

There was a lot of scoring to start the game on both sides. The Nets settled into what they do: shoot threes. Meanwhile the Nuggets got most of their scoring early on from Jamal Murray with Jokic diming him up. That story continued as the quarter moved on. Each Nuggets starter chipped in a bucket around Jamal’s scoring and Denver kept a small lead with half the quarter gone. When the benches checked in it was still a close game. Watson made his presence felt early with a pretty Eurostep that he turned into a two handed jam. The Nuggets started to find some separation with their reserve unit and got the lead to seven to force a Nets timeout. After the TO the Nuggets offense went cold and missed several shots. Reggie Jackson mustered just enough offense to hold the Denver lead. After one they were up 28-22.

The game was a bit clunky to start the second. A lot of missed shots on both sides. Michael Malone opted for DeAndre Jordan over Zeke Nnaji as the backup center and while that created some problems on offense (hack-a-Jordan was a thing) on defense his presence was certainly felt. The Nuggets couldn’t buy a bucket though so the lead stayed right around a half dozen. That was still the lead when Joker checked back in with just over eight minutes to go with the rest of the starters short to follow. Brooklyn was really struggling but they still were within striking distance with half the quarter to go. Even the Nuggets starters struggled to hit shots but their defense was a large reason for the Nets struggles and therefore the lead did not diminish. Michael Porter Jr. found Aaron Gordon for an open dunk with just under four minutes left in the half to finally push the lead to double digits. If Denver could have managed to hit a three the game would have been a complete laugher by half time but instead the lead hung around a dozen with the quarter drawing to a close. The Nuggets got it up to sixteen before the Nets mounted a mini run. The half ended with Denver up 52-39.

Jokic drove the offense to start the second half while Nic Claxton got a couple buckets for the Nets. The Nuggets didn’t have a ton of energy and failed to grow the lead early in the third but the Nets had even less energy so the lead didn’t get smaller either. Gordon started to find some opportunities on offense and came along with Jokic for scoring, the lead grew slightly but general sloppiness continued to prevent Denver from blowing the game wide open. The Nets continued to have no counter for Denver though and slowly but sure the lead continued to grow. By the time Denver’s reserves started checking in they were leading by seventeen. Jokic and Gordon had an excellent quarter, finally taking advantage of the Nets lack of size and drawing fouls galore. Before you knew it Jokic had a triple double and the Nuggets were up twenty-four with just under three minutes left in the quarter. Jacque Vaughn started going to his deep bench before the third quarter was even over, obviously looking for some energy because his usual group had none. Jackson threw an alley-oop that Watson had to elevate to the roof to finish which put the exclamation point on a fantastic quarter. After three Denver was up big, 90-67.

The benches were in for both teams to start the fourth and the offense was expectedly clunky. Watson and Christian Braun hit threes which offset some defensive confusion that resulted in easy buckets for Brooklyn. That continued with the quarter progressing before Braun broke the monotony by putting Armani Brooks on a poster with a breakaway jam (it was so nasty Braun apologized to Brooks during some free throws a moment later). Otherwise though the Nuggets reserve group was pretty sloppy, settling for three pointers while being far too passive in keeping the Nets out of the lane. Malone continued to take timeouts because the Nuggets continued to just settle for three point shots. With 4:45 the lead was down to sixteen points. Denver was getting beat badly on the glass while the refs were not calling anything in Denver’s favor. The Nets didn’t have enough talent on the floor though to overcome such a large gap so really the only people on Denver’s side that were sweating it were those who took the over on the spread and Malone. Braun had another pretty finish for an and-one with just over two minutes to go which felt like the icing on the cake. The reserves finally made some threes in the waning minutes to push the lead past twenty again and it was all she wrote. Nuggets win in a blowout 124-101.

Best matchup: Spencer Dinwiddie vs Jamal Murray

It was a tale of two halves for each of the point guards tonight. Jamal came out of the gate red hot and dictated the game on offense in the first quarter. He took a back seat to the Jokic and Gordon show in the third quarter and like all of the Nuggets starters didn’t play in the fourth so his boxscore was a bit underwhelming. Dinwiddie meanwhile was your classic veteran point guard while the game was still reasonable. He did a good job of scoring when the opportunity was there and setting up his teammates when it wasn’t. When the game got out of hand he started hunting empty points a little bit but still it was a solid night. He too had a short evening and didn’t play in the fourth so he also had a bit of an underwhelming boxscore.

Peyton Watson just keeps getting better

Dec 14, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Cam Thomas (24) is fouled by Denver Nuggets forward Peyton Watson (8) in the second quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Watson ends the night with a career high in points but honestly his scoring was a secondary story to his defense. Watson is such a disrupter on that end and you can see his confidence growing every night. By the time the fourth quarter came around with the Nets lesser talented players playing Peyton was in full Swatson mode. The most encouraging thing on the offensive side was that he shot 2-5 from three. I continue to pound the drum that as soon as Peyton gets consistency in his shot he’s going to be a 25 minute a night guy minimum. He ends the night with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. It’s a good problem to have for Denver but if things keeping going the way they are Malone is going to have to start squeezing someone’s minutes in order to find Peyton more and more time. His impact on the court is just too good to limit it to 15 or so minutes a game.

Blowout dooms the Thing to Bet

Our single game parlay for AG points and rebounds (over 13.5 and 4.5) ends up missing due to the blowout. Gordon only played twenty-four minutes and ends the night with thirteen points and three rebounds. If this was a close game where he plays in the fourth quarter then there’s a very solid chance he hits the overs and we all make money. Alas, blowouts are one of the dangers of betting overs in the NBA. Hopefully you took advantage of our promo to get up to $250 of bonus bets at ESPN Bet by using our code LEHIGH and used said bonus bets tonight. Click here for the detailsΒ and to sign up.