Basketball: Denver Nuggets Jamal Murray (27) in action vs Los Angeles Lakers at Ball Arena. 
Denver, CO 2/14/2021
CREDIT: Jamie Schwaberow (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
(Set Number: X163529 TK1)

The Denver Nuggets and Orlando Started off slow with heavy hearts, with the Magic jumping to a 4-0 lead. Then the Dynamic Duo and their potential triplet took-over.

The 1st quarter saw the Denver Nuggets come out flat with sloppy play and bad shooting. Only the players can tell you if heavy hearts had anything to do with it. No one could blame them if it did. Will Barton missed the first two Nugget shots on wide-open 3’s that allowed Orlando to get out to a 4-0 lead within the first 2 minutes of action. Then Denver found another gear on defense and the offensive glass. They would allow a total of 11 points the rest of the quarter and scored 30 of their own. While not allowing a single bench point to the Orlando Magic.

You got a Joker Jam (kinda) and a Blue Arrow up and under beauty. As well as a redemption 3 by Will the Thrill in the corner with no Magic within 15 feet of him. Michael Porter Jr. showed he understood the rebounding deficiency from the New Orleans game Sunday night as he was uber active on both ends of the floor. He is starting to show the strength and length that so many coveted and helped the Nuggets double-up the Magic 30-15 at the end of 1. Every Denver Nugget player starter and bench had a positive +/-. The Magic on the other hand had nothing but negative ratings.

Here’s that (kinda) Joker Jam courtesy of the Denver Nuggets Social Team:

If you thought the 1st quarter was bad for Magic Fans, it only got worse. The Denver Nuggets were actually able to grow that lead as they entered the half up 63-39. Of those 63 points, 42 came in the paint. That’s a good number if I do say so myself. A stark contrast from the New Orleans contest Sunday where they were absolutely dominated in the paint and at the glass by Zion Williamson and Steven Adams. But this is a Magic team that came in with an injured list containing 5 players. Including one of their best in Mo Bamba. And unlike that Sunday matinee, the Nuggets out-rebounded the Magic 26-17 in the first half.

The Nuggets ended the first half shooting 56% from the field, 30.8% from 3, and 50% from the line. As opposed to the Magic at 36.6%/37.5%/75% respectively. Both defenses were disciplined though as only 4 free throws total were shot, and none came until less than a minute left in the half. Jokic, Murray, and Will Barton all ended the half in double-digits. With MPJ close behind with 8. Jokic continues his triple-double threats with 17 pts/6 assists/5 rebounds entering intermission.

Here are some of those impressive halftime stats courtesy of the Denver Nuggets Social Team:

The 3rd-quarter saw the Orlando Magic find some life and give the small home-crowd something to cheer for. As they were able to cause havoc to Denver’s offense causing 6 turnovers in the quarter after Denver only committed 4 in the entire first half. They were able to close that 24-point deficit at half down to 7-points before the end of the 3rd. This had a lot to do with closing the rebounding gap from the first half that had Denver +9. Orlando was able to dwindle this down to Denver +7. This is the key to the Nuggets’ success, defense, and rebounding. If they can keep the energy up on D and on the glass, not a team in the league can stop their offense.

The 4th-quarter started as sloppy as the 3rd with the Magic keeping their energy. Clawing to within 5 points before Blue Arrow took over with 10 minutes left, hitting a ridiculous fade-away 3 with two defenders in his face, yes that is the right number key pressed. He then passed the torch to Nikola with about 5 minutes to go. Where Joker would go on to commit Nikola on Nikola crime as seen below, and putting up yet another triple-double with a slash of 28 pts/10 assists/15 rebounds.

Here is that felony committed on the floor courtesy of the Denver Nuggets Social Team:

You saw an up-and-down performance from a Nuggets team that showed why Jokic and Murray bristle when people try to say they are the only ones that matter. That 28 points by Joker was a team-high. There was no Blue Arrow 50-burgers tonight. What you got was a true team win. Murray scored 21, Michael Porter Jr. came up 3 rebounds short of a double-double (18 pts/7 rebs), and P.J. Dozier chipped in 14 points off the bench plus 6 rebounds and 2 assists to boot. You saw every Nugget end the night with no less than a 0 +/- rating (Zeke Nnaji 6 pts/5 rebs). We also had Facundo Campazzo put in another workmanlike performance on his birthday where he also had an arena back home named after him. Facundo put in a +9 rating, 6 assists, and 2 steals.

It wasn’t all roses for Mile High Basketball, nor all sour-grapes for Orlando. Evan Fournier was a huge part of the Magic staying competitive with a game-high 31 points. Al-Farouq Aminu put up a double-double (17 pts/10 rebs). But unfortunately for them, they were the only Magic player to touch the ball that had a positive rating (which was the entire active roster). In the end, you simply saw what it means to have superior talent up and down the roster. Also why the modern game has squeed to the trey. The Nuggets just hit a gear with 5 minutes to go in the 4th that the Orlando Magic couldn’t match. Which lead to the final score of 110-99. Now it’s on to the second half of a back-back for Denver against Toronto on Wednesday.

Up Next:

@Toronto Raptors, Wednesday, March 25, 2021 at 5:30 PM MST

Where to watch:

Denver Market: Altitude TV/Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Toronto Market: Toronto Sports Network