After a disappointing loss to Detroit. Denver Nuggets dig deep against OKC and pull out an OT victory 131-126.
Many wondered if the Denver Nuggets would have enough energy to put up a fight in Oklahoma City after the hard-fought loss to Detroit at home Tuesday night. You could understand if the team’s stars didn’t have 100% to give on the back half of a back-to-back with a flight in between. Significant stars and role players were out as Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Bones Hyland, and Jeff Green all with a mix of non-Covid illnesses/injuries. Third-string point guard Ish Smith has been out with a right-calf strain for a while now. Which meant the Nuggets were playing will all three PGs inactive. Things got so thin 2-way player Jack White logged almost 10 mins. pitching in 2 blocks and a rebound.Embed from Getty Images
The Denver Nuggets came out of the gates hot building a 17-point lead after the first quarter horn sounded at 38-21. Then the defense decided to be optional as the Nuggets gave up 76 points while only scoring 46 of their own in the 2nd and 3rd. The Thunder had an 86.6% win probability and a 13-point lead at this point. Then the 4th began, Air Gordon was cleared for take-off, and the Denver defense came along for the ride giving up only 29 points to the Thunder in the 4th and overtime combined.
Aaron Gordon put it best after the game when he said “It was a point-guard by-committee approach.” People have spent a lot of time asking “who cares if you have a 5 that can pass?” when talking about Nikola Jokic. Well, now you see how it is so much more than a luxury. After a night where I and Coach Malone pointed out a lack of production from those around Joker, you got 30 points from Aaron Gordon, and Bruce Brown produced his first career triple-double. It wasn’t cheap either, Bruce put up a 17 pts/10 asts/13 reb slash line. More importantly, the Nuggets improve to 5-2 with Downtown Bruce Brown in the starting lineup.Embed from Getty Images
We haven’t even mentioned AG being 2 rebounds shy of a double-double, or the 19 points he scored in the 4th and OT to spark the Denver Nuggets to a comeback and the season-high 30 points we mentioned before. Oh, and the Slovenian Sniper Vlatko Čančar(chawn-char) had a career-high 20 off the bench. This was only a night after Čančar didn’t log a single minute against Detroit. We didn’t get the two-man game from Joker and Blue Arrow we love so much, but you got the next best thing with Niko and Vlatko. Despite constant double teams Jokic fell one assist shy of a triple-double, again, with a 39 pts/9 asts/10 reb slash. All of this led to a season-high 131 points for the Nuggets.
For a second consecutive night, the 3-pointer abandoned Denver for stretches. They finished 36.8% from three, but that was buoyed by a less than likely 4-5 from deep from Air Gordon. Without him, the Nuggets barely reach 30% from beyond the arch. They were better at the stripe shooting 80.5% but is still below where you would like it. You want it more in line with OKC’s 85.7%. The only truly worrying thing though is the fact that for the second consecutive night you allowed sub-.500 teams to have a 20+ point scorer off the bench. Tuesday it was Alec Burks (21), and Wednesday it was Isaiah Joe (20). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his torrid 2022 pace with a 31 pts/11 asts double-double. The most impressive part of SGA’s 31 points is he only had 12 points at the half on 4-of-7 shooting. You expect SGA to get his, you can’t allow the same lapses from the Denver bench against good teams.Embed from Getty Images
Despite all the adversity, all the injuries/illnesses, poor officiating, and going from a 17-point lead to a 13-point deficit. The Denver Nuggets improved to 3-0 against the Thunder and setting. upa season swee on January 22, 2023. There never was any quit in this team, it’s something I talked about after the Detroit game that had nine lead changes. This Nuggets squad has depth and pride never before seen in Ball Arena. No matter who is on the floor, or who isn’t, this team expects to win.
This is the second road win this week they had no business pulling off. The defensive effort might not always be as consistent as you would like. It has shown up when it’s needed most more often than not. Games like these are why you go out and get Aaron Gordon, Bruce Brown, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. This trio has held opponents to less than 34% from the perimeter. You don’t like back-to-back nights of 60+ points in the paint to teams that are plainly not on the same talent level. But you will always take the notch in the win column.
@L.A. Clippers Friday, Nov. 5th at 8:30 PM MST/10:30 EST
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