Denver Nuggets start hot, Anfernee Simons dominates third, and Portland pwns the Nuggets on Monday night.

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If you turned the tv off after the first, you would have to imagine Denver dominated Portland. The Denver Nuggets jumped out to as much as a 13-point lead in the opening quarter, before settling on a 31-23 lead to end it. Air Gordon was on-time for all take-offs, MPJ was stroking from a distance, and Joker was doing vintage facilitating circus acts. Then the wheels fell off.

In the 2nd quarter, you had a taste of what was to come as the Trailblazers shaved 2 off the lead by winning the quarter scoring 32 to Denver’s 30. The Nuggets still had a lead though and were competitive. No way a Blazers squad on the second leg of a back-to-back could out-work the boys from a mile high, right?

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Anfernee Simons entered the locker room with 7 of the Blazers 55 points, he came out in the third and showed Blazers wasn’t just the nickname of his club. The fourth-year Shooting Guard went unconscious in the 3rd-quarter. Simons had 22-points, and went 6-7 from beyond the 3-point arc in the third alone. He would finish the night with 29 pts/3 reb/5 ast, second only to Damian Lillard in scoring who had 31. Denver’s defense can’t hope to contend for championships if they can’t stem the tide of a 4th-year player that averaged 10 points per game on 40% shooting in his career coming into Monday night. But hats off to the TrailBlazers for riding the wave all the way to the shoreline.

Look at this shooting chart for Simons in that third frame courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.

Anfernee Simons 3rd-Quarter Shot Chart vs Denver Nuggets Monday Oct. 24, 2022 via Yahoo! Sports

The Denver Nuggets has no answer for Simons and the Blazers offense until it was too late as Portland would take the lead 99-86 with a 44-point third. Denver could only muster 25 points in the quarter as a team. As I told you all on the latest Nug Life Podcast, the Nuggets cannot win with Aaron Gordon as the leading scorer on a consistent basis. Four games into the season, two of them Gordon has lead the Nuggets in scoring, both are losses. Small sample yes, but worth watching for vindication. We love AG here at TAI42, but he is a supporting actor, not the lead. Michael Porter Jr. was solid again with 18 points, and Bones was busy with 15 of his own. No other Nugget reached double-digits. Yes that means Joker didn’t either.

After the 78th triple-double of his career against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Nikola Jokic managed a 9/9/9 line. Your back-to-back MVP cannot disappear like that, regardless of foul trouble. The Nuggets need to stop pleading to the refs for call, albeit deservedly so, and play through the whistle. The lack of hustle has been unacceptable in their two losses, and at times in their two wins. The defensive effort will be key going forward. Can they rebound at home against a poor-shooting Lakers squad? That seems like their best shot.

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What’s Next?

vs L.A. Lakers Wed Oct. 26 @ 8:00 PM MST

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