Dan and Santiago both called for a double-digit victory by the Denver Nuggets over the Houston Rockets. What they didn’t predict was a vintage Joker and Blue Arrow two-man performance.
March 30, 2021 that’s 607 days from Sunday’s game that pit the Denver Nuggets against the Houston Rockets. It’s the best of the west vs the worst. And we got to see Jamal Murray go for 30+ for the first time in 607 days. We also got to see something that took even longer at the same time, 618 days to be exact, since Joker and Blue Arrow both went for at least 30 pts. The NBA’s deadliest two-man game is back.
I and Santiago have been back and forth on when we would see this type of performance from the Nuggets franchise cornerstones. We were both wrong, but Nikola Jokic, as always, was spot on. Back in the pre-season Joker was asked when we would see the old Jamal. He said pretty plainly “I love to play with him, of course. I know he’s gonna be really bad for the next 20 games, but we’re gonna survive,” Jokic said, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post.Embed from Getty Images
Some tried to take it as a jab, but even Murray knew he was only being honest. After that much time away from competition you have the proverbial “rust” to knock off. Well, Sunday night showed exactly what this well oiled ore-cart could do at a mile high. Once Jokic and Murray got started down the tracks, nothing could derail them other than rest at designated stops. I said I wanted a game where the starters didn’t play in the fourth, we got exactly that. All 63 points, 14 rebs, and 13 assists by the dynamic duo came in the first three-quarters.
That left Young Justice (Ish Smith and Zeke Nnaji) coming off the bench in the fourth and closing out a double digit victory with a little flash from the backup duo themselves dishing out 25 pts/8 asts/8 rebs/2 stls/1 blk combined. Ish has been impressive in his two games back from the calf-strain that sidelined him. Blocking shots, playing sticky defense, as well as some slick passing as the backup PG in Bones Hylands absence due to a non-Covid illness. Davon Reed was another bright spot going 3-6 from deep and playing top-notch defense in 25+ mins. on the court.Embed from Getty Images
We keep talking about it, but it’s a worthy item of discussion, and that is the depth of this team. As Santiago stated, it wouldn’t be a Denver Nuggets game if there wasn’t a few names on the injury report. That was the case yet again with this one that saw Michael Porter Jr. and Jeff Green in street clothes. That has not, and seemingly will not be an excuse for this team. It’s next man up, and nobody flinches.
So down key players again, this squad responded with an oldie but a goodie that included a dominate third-quarter. This has been a bugaboo of this Denver Nuggets squad that has gotten entire segments on talk shows about it. And that is how bad this Denver Nuggets team has tended to be in the 3rd quarter of games. Houston was able to keep up in the first quarter with the Nuggets only amassing a 3-point lead 42-39. Then Houston won the 2nd quarter 29-28 despite Murray putting up over a third of his point total in the frame. I’m sure most in Denver felt a “hear-we-go-again” mentality creeping in during the halftime show.Embed from Getty Images
Then Joker exited the locker room, and he could. not. miss. Almost literally (he missed one free-throw), Jokic went 7-7 in the third including two 3-pointers for 17 of his 32 points on the night. This lead Denver to a 106-91 going into the 4th and Joker and Murray getting the rest of the night off. This was well earned and should leave them well rested for game two of this mini homestand versus the Rockets on Wednesday night.
vs Houston Rockets Nov. 30 @ 7:00 PM MST/9:00 PM EST
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