Nuggets jumped out to quick lead, relinquished, then stomped out the Hawks at home 126-102.
The Nuggets came in Sunday refreshed after an off-day Saturday and the knowledge 9 of the next 12 games would come at home. They started this stretch with some new kids on the block in tow in Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee. Which was a completely different look from the Nuggets team that traveled to Atlanta on Tuesday. Each team coming off wins and impressive performances from their third of each team’s Big-3. John Collins had 38 pts Friday in a double-double performance, and Michael Porter Jr. put up 25 in his contest.
The opening quarter had some serious positives regardless of the end-result. It started with a high-energy outburst that saw Denver jump out to a 4-point lead. It was good to see Will Barton put up over 1/3 (12 pts) of the entire offensive output. But when Jokic (2), Murray (2), Porter Jr. (5) only putting up 9 combined points. You are going to struggle to keep a lead. No Atlanta Hawk player had more than 7 points in the opening quarter, but 9 players had at least 3. Death by 1000 cuts lead to a 35-31 Hawks lead by the end of the quarter.Embed from Getty Images
The second quarter brought something all in Denver had been waiting for a while to see. The return of the shooting stroke for JaMychal Green, how hit 2 treys to open the quarter and with Paul Milsap throwing down a few on his former club let the Nuggets regain the lead. And more importantly at 8 minutes to go in the half, Denver’s D had still not allowed any Hawk over 7 points. Uncharacteristically with less than 5 minutes, to-go Jokic had only put up 1 shot. Thankfully the new guy Aaron Gordon put up 11, and the aforementioned Green had 10 of his own.
Jokic ended up chipping in 9 points/7 assists/4 rebounds to help spurn the Nuggets onto a 20-6 run to end the half and go into the locker rooms with a 65-55 lead. Giving him a legit shot at a double-double despite the above fact. They saw and withstood a 3rd straight opponent come out scorching from 3. The Hawks started 9-17 from 3, ending 9-20 once the Denver D took it up a notch at about 3 mins. left. The main reason for the Nuggets pulling away was they out-rebounded the Hawks 23-14. Ever Nuggets starter had a double-digit positive +/- except Will Barton (+9). The discipline on defense only allowing 4 free-throw attempts by the Hawks had a lot to do with that 10-point lead as well.Embed from Getty Images
The 3rd quarter began with the Nuggets continuing what they had going to end the first half. They were able to double up that lead with a 80-60 advantage with 8 minutes to go in the third. When the auxiliary scoring cooled with Barton suddenly bobbling everything, and a heavy workload on the starters to begin. Murray doubled his output to 15 points and MPJ to 13 at this point. Then the offensive struggles for Denver began. Fortunately, Atlanta decided to stop shooting at the same time. Each team trading bricks for 2-3 minutes. Atlanta was able to share the lead to 13 at one point.
They just could not match a bigger and more athletic Denver starting lineup that had no-one score less than 12 pts (Barton) and 2 with a double-double (MPJ/Joker) by the end of the third. That’s not the mention the 12 points by JaMychal Green. The Hawks bench actually outscored the Nuggets bench 28-24. The meant however the Hawks starters were outscored 69-55. Which left us with the 97-79 score to end the frame. I finished my physics final today, so felt the need to pass on the pain of math to you all as well for my misfortune.Embed from Getty Images
Moving on to the 4th we saw the makings of an embarrassing loss by the Hawks. Though Trae Young had a game high 19 pts at the end of 3 quarters, he would end it with 21 (also the game-high). The story of the game though was JaMychal Green, he of 0-11 from 3 coming in, went 3-5 from deep and a team-high 20 pts in just 14 mins. The last time these 2 teams met, the Hawks out-rebounded the Nuggets 44-33. This time, the Nuggets flipped the script, outpacing the Hawks 49-31. Joker didn’t see the floor in the 4th, and JaVale McGee saw none, period. And despite Denver’s starters playing essentially no minutes as a whole in the final frame, the Nuggets were able to grow their lead to as much as 33-points.
Facundo Campazzo was his pesky self, further endearing himself to the home fan-base. He pitched in 6 pts, but more importantly facilitated well with 5 assists. Bol Bol came in and put up 8 pts in less than 5 mins. It didn’t seem to matter who was on the floor, Denver was able to do whatever it wanted at will. Let’s see if they can carry the momentum of a 24 point win over the Hawks (126-102) into a matchup against the 76ers team with no Embiid.
Vs Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, March 30, at 7:00 PM MST
Where to watch:
Denver Market: Altitude TV
Philadelphia Market: NBC Sports Philadelphia (CSP)
National Broadcast: NBATV