The Denver Nuggets found all their missing offensive efficiency in one game, dismantling the Atlanta Hawks 142-110. Aaron Gordon took the night off (a good choice against this lineup and something he desperately needs down the stretch) and Denver took care of business without him. Nikola Jokic had a triple double before the end of the third quarter, and Jamal Murray had a minutes restriction but still found ways to be effective with 16 points and six assists in just 21 minutes. The scoring star was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope though, who had 24 points through 3 quarters and found a way to put a stamp on the game whenever the Hawks thought about crawling back into it. The Hawks side was well-rounded with the majority those 110 points coming from their 5 starters in double figures, but Denver’s bench had an astonishing 58 points – and you cannot beat the Nuggets if their bench is going to do that to you. It just wasn’t Atlanta’s night, but Nuggets fans got to go home very happy.

Game Recap

Stuff happened in the first half but I was stuck in a lightning monsoon in Oklahoma so please enjoy these first half recap tweets:



After halftime, the Hawks started the third quarter six for six from the field while the nuggets had three turnovers to let the Hawks close the deficit to 80-71. Jamal Murray, rusty though he was, finished a traditional three-point play after a drive finish and a foul. Atlanta finally missed and Murray made a three, but Boganovic answered. Jokic was short with a free throw line jumper but KCP had a three after a Murray block on the other end. Jokic grabbed a rebound and threw an outlet chest pass for his 9th assist of the game, this one to MPJ for a dunk. Braun buried a three to make it 93 to 76 Denver. MPJ turned down a three on the next possession but grabbed a Jokic miss for a put-in, Hunter for Atlanta made a push shot in the paint to answer, but KCP made a beautiful cut and finish to get Jokic his triple double in the third quarter. A behind-the-back pass from Holiday to Jokic got Denver the 101-82 lead with a couple minutes to go. Peyton Watson’s block created a Jokic-led fast break and a KCP finish as Denver got back on the horse in a big way and finish the quarter up 111-86.


Reggie Jackson threw a behind the back past to Watson for a fourth-quarter dunk, but Atlanta made a little run as Boganovic got a tip-in, Capela made free throws and Jalen Johnson made a couple of buckets. Coach Michael Malone called a timeout to get MPJ’s rebounding and shot threat back in the game, and Denver started making jump shots. Reggie Jackson, Justin Holiday, and Peyton Watson all hit jumpers to right the ship, then back to back MPJ 3s made it 128-104 Denver. Nnaji made a 3 as well, and then with just over 3 minutes to go the deep bench made an appearance and also poured in some points. Julian Strawther made free throws, Jay Huff hit a lay up and a dunk, and Hunter Tyson also got a Julian-Strawther-assisted layup as a complete team performance turned this one into a laugher by the final buzzer, with Denver winning 142-110.

Final Thoughts

This is how you want a tune up game to go in the final couple weeks of the season. Aaron Gordon got some rest. Jamal Murray was on a minute restriction and actually stayed on it. Nikola Jokic sat the whole fourth quarter, and all the bench players got to get in and get tuned up with some positive basketball and saw their shots go in. It’s hard to see how it could have gone much better, and as a bonus KCP got to dust off his shot and show that he is ready and willing to make those important three-point shots in the playoffs even though his regular season output has been mostly focused on the defensive end. Everything is right for the Denver Nuggets tonight, so enjoy it.