The Denver Nuggets were outclassed in every area by the New York Knicks, scoring their fewest points of the season while losing 122-84 in a game that was not remotely that close. The Knicks were physical, bombing away from 3, and Denver offered no resistance whatsoever. Nikola Jokic had 31 points and 11 rebounds despite a scary eye poke that took him out of the first half early, but no other Nugget showed up against a hungry Knicks squad that looked on fire with OG Anunoby added to an already-scrappy lineup. The rest of Denver’s starters only scored 31 combined. The Nuggets were tired, the Knicks wanted every possession more, and the game was not close early and only got worse the rest of the way.

Game Recap

The Nuggets started slow in a physical early first, getting just two buckets in the first 5 minutes (both from Jokic) and a single made free throw from Jamal Murray put them down 13-5 to a balanced Knicks attack. MPJ missed a three, Jalen Brunson made a layup answered by a Jokic tip-in, but DiVincenzo’s second made 3 had it 18-7 New York. The Knicks won a challenge to save OG Anunoby his second foul, resulting in a Denver turnover. The Nuggets played flat-footed and slow for most of the first, with no one but Jokic showing much energy on either end. New York made a pair of layups to finish a 17-3 run ended by a Jokic 3, but Julius Randle rattled in a 3 of his own for a 16 point Knicks lead. KCP answered from deep, but no one could stop Brunson inside despite a great Aaron Gordon dunk off a two-man game with Jokic. Nikola had 13 points and 7 rebounds in the first but Denver finished it down 33-21 thanks to Brunson, Randle and DiVincenzo taking it to Denver from every spot.

The Knicks kept outworking Denver to start the second, both on the glass and on defense. Murray earned a traditional three-point play to cut the deficit to 11, Peyton Watson made a baseline push shot, but New York beat the Nuggets up in transition for a couple of minutes and forcing Denver to foul them. It was 40-26 when a near-steal for NY turned into a transition 3 for Jamal Murray instead. Deuce McBride buried a three at the buzzer to answer, Murray got blocked, and Quentin Grimes nailed a three to force a Denver timeout with a 46-29 Knicks lead. Jokic came back and Denver forced a 24-second violation, but more Nuggets miscues kept Denver from any potential runs. A tough Grimes layup off an offensive rebound put the Knick lead at 50-31 that Jokic answered from the paint, but then Jokic took a finger from DiVincenzo right in the eye that left him crumpled on the court in pain for several minutes. He made his free throws and then immediately left for the locker room. Denver went on a 6-0 run with KCP and Watson making buckets to cut the deficit to 13. Watson had a great block on Aunoby’s dunk attempt, but Anunoby nailed a 3 next time down and NY went into the half up 62-41.

Jokic started the second half for Denver, who were at their largest halftime deficit of the season. OG hit a layup answered by a soft-touch Jokic jumper, but DiVincenzo hit yet another three as Denver had no answer for New York’s deep shooting. Randle and Jokic traded paint buckets, but Denver’s offense was terrible and their defense was worse. The teams exchanged turnovers but a Brunson dunk put New York up 27, 77-50 despite Jokic’s best efforts. New York buried more threes, AG hit a 17 foot jumper that OG matched, and the Knicks were on cruise control with a nearly 30 point lead. Coach Michael Malone got a tech complaining about the whistle and then got trash talked by some Knicks, Watson committed a charge at the end of the quarter, and despite 31 points and 11 rebounds from Jokic the Nuggets trailed 98-66 going into the 4th.


OG Anunoby started off the fourth banking a paint bucket for his 26th point to go with his 6 steals, McBride made yet another 3, and Denver’s bench didn’t have any more to offer than its starters did. Hunter Tyson, Jay Huff and Jalen Pickett came in with half the quarter to go and garbage time played out exactly as you would think – the same way the rest of the game did.

Final Thoughts

– The road trip was a good one despite a bad loss – but it definitely was a bad loss. It still leaves a bad taste in the mouth to faceplant the last game of the trip as egregiously as the Nuggets did here. The non-Jokic starters were awful on both ends, and were absolutely not prepared to face New York’s non-stop pressure nor to slow the deep shooting for the Knicks. A bad loss is the same in the standings as any other, but Denver has to go home and handle Philadelphia now, hopefully with a healthy Nikola Jokic. His eye is really the only thing that matters from this game, and if Denver escapes without it being worse than a season-low scoring output and some angry post-game comments from their head coach that’ll be a blessing.