The Denver Nuggets (26-13, 16-3 home) took down the Cleveland Cavaliers (25-15, 7-11 away) 121-108. Nikola Jokić celebrates Serbian Christmas with his 10th Triple-Double of the season and the 86th of his career. The Nuggets have now won 10 straight games at home. They will look to keep the streak with LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers coming to town on Monday.

Denver was led by the Joker, he finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists, and made 3 of his 4 attempted three-pointers. Jamal Murray came to play and put up 18 points of his own, any doubt of Jamal’s return from injury seems to be gone. The Nuggets had 7 players finish with double-digit point totals. The Cavs were led by Caris LeVert who finished with 22 points and Darius Garland who finished with 21 points.

First Quarter:

Nikola Jokić scores the first basket of the game on a simple post hook, he then throws an assist to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. LeVert is then fouled on a three-pointer but only makes 1 of 3 free throws. Jokić scored or assisted on the Nuggets first 5 baskets. Denver gives up 3 offensive rebounds on a single possession and then allowed Garland to hit a three, giving Cleveland their first lead of the game. Following a 9-2 Cavs run, Coach Malone calls a timeout.

Jamal Murray will be the player to stagger with the bench, Bruce Brown checks in for him. Porter Jr. makes a corner three and follows it up with a tough offensive rebound put back on the next possession. Denver goes on a 10-2 run, with MPJ only not scoring or assisting on one of Denver’s four made shots in the run. Jokić puts Jarrett Allen in the spin cycle for an and-one post-spin.

Jokić checks out of the game with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, Zeke Nnaji checks in at center for him. Jamal Murray enters the game at the same time and becomes the lone starter on the court. The Cavs close the quarter on a 7-0 run, and Denver ends the quarter down 28-26.

Second Quarter: 

Both teams do not score for the first minute of the quarter, Kevin Love gets a putback to open things off. Murray knocks down a tough half-spin jumper, but Denver was being outscored 6-3 before a Coach Malone timeout.

The team gave up an easy layup and it was evident that Malone was not happy with the level of effort being put in. Following the timeout, Vlatko Cancar, Jamal Murray, and Bruce Brown all made threes in a row. Giving Denver the lead back. The Nuggets go without scoring for over a full minute of game time, KCP breaks the drought with a three. To combat the Cavs two big-man lineup, the Nuggets implemented a zone defense to close out the first half.

Jokić made a dedicated effort to pound the paint, he attacked Mobley on a few possessions in a row and made him check out early after picking up his 4th foul. Garland gets poked in the eye by Jamal Murray on the followthrough of a pass, he appears fine and Murray was not called for anything extracurricular. Jamal Murray throws down a one-handed jam and MPJ takes back the lead with a made corner three. Jamal makes another mid-range shot and Denver takes a 4-point lead into halftime. 62-58.

Third Quarter: 

Jokić comes out of the tunnel and immediately makes back-to-back three-pointers. The Nuggets came out still playing their zone defense and came out looking to put this game away. Gordon finishes a ferocious dunk and makes the Nuggets lead by 10 points. Murray continues his heater, knocking down his 2nd three of the game. Denver has made 9 of their last 12 three-point shots. Jamal Murray picks up a fantastic block on LeVert, but Denver comes up empty on 5 straight possessions. Denver has given up an 8-2 run and Coach Malone calls timeout, but the Nuggets still remain up by 7 points.

Jokić connects on his THIRD three-pointer of the night, the lead grew to as many as 12 points. He has scored 11 points in the third quarter alone. DeAndre Jordan checks in for the Joker, Coach Malone was tired of Cleveland’s size advantage over Nnaji. Bones Hyland makes his first three of the game, and he connects on another on the very next possession. The Nuggets have their biggest lead of the game, 15 points. Despite a late three from Raul Neto, the Nuggets enter the 4th quarter up 94-82.

Fourth Quarter: 

Jamal Murray makes one shot before Kevin Love notices the basketball hoop is bent yet again. At the time of the stoppage (11:22 to go in the 4th), the Nuggets were up by 14 points. Play was resumed shortly after, nothing compared to the previous delay. Following the delay, Jordan was called for a flagrant foul on Lamar Stevens. The Nuggets gave up a 6-2 run after play was resumed. Bones Hyland scores on a few layups and then throws a lob to Jordan. Bones scored 6 points in the 4th while Jokić was out of the game. Jamal Murray is called for a Technical foul. Jordan stayed on the court until late in the 4th, he played some solid minutes except for picking up a few fouls.

Bones Hyland takes a three and is fouled before being called for a Technical foul while shooting, that’s 2 T’s in 12 seconds for Denver. Bruce Brown makes an excellent hustle play and it leads to an MPJ mid-range fadeaway. The Nuggets ended the game playing stifling defense, allowing only 4 made baskets in the last 9 minutes of the game. Cleveland adapts a zone to try and stay in the game but it’s unfortunately too little too late. Both teams competed till the very end, but it was evident that the Nuggets won this game before the final buzzer sounded. Jokić picks up his 10th assist in the closing minutes and notches his 86th triple-double of his career.

What’s Next?

The Denver Nuggets will take on the visiting 12th-seeded, Los Angeles Lakers (17-21, 8-13 away) on Monday, January 9th. The game is in Ball Arena at 7:00 PM (MST). Nuggets fans show up and remind Lakers fans to “Take that L on the way out”.