Denver Nuggets demolish Los Angeles Clippers 122-91 in first major blowout of season

Denver Nuggets demolish Los Angeles Clippers 122-91 in first major blowout of season

The Denver Nuggets came to play on national television tonight, winning 122-91 against the Los Angeles Clippers on TNT in a game that could shape the number of people who will watch the Nuggets for the foreseeable future.

Nikola Jokic took just 24 minutes and eight shots tonight, scoring 12 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out nine assists in what ended up being an extremely easy game. Jamal Murray led all Nuggets scorers with 18 points on just 10 field goal attempts. The Nuggets bench combined for 60 points, a strong number for a unit that has struggled to score for most of the year.

Oh, and Bones Hyland did it.

Never change, Bizzy 😂

— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 6, 2023

Michael Porter Jr. was also the defensive player of the game in the Nuggets locker room for the first time in his career, so clearly, things went pretty well.

Michael Malone said that the MFA was the DPOG and that when he announced this to the team, the KCP almost fell off his chair.

— Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn) January 6, 2023

“We want to create habits that will allow us to win at a high level,” Michael Malone shared with the media postgame.

The Nuggets now move to 25-13 on the season, remaining atop the Western Conference. They have now won a league-leading 19 games against the West, the most important factor when assessing their chances going forward.

Here are my highlights from the Nuggets’ win against the Clippers:

Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon receive the ball

Tonight was a great opportunity for Murray and Gordon to rekindle their games after their lackluster performances in Minnesota. Murray wasn’t as aggressive then as he should have been, and Gordon was probably too aggressive at the wrong times.

In the first quarter, the scenario was completely reversed. Murray scored 13 points in the first quarter, including multiple baskets on back-to-back jumpers. His ability to read the defense and willingness to attempt the shots presented to him was definitely evident. His defense was also excellent, getting to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard and contesting shots well.

Jamal can feel it from downtown

He has a quick 10 in the first quarter 🪣

— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 6, 2023

“I feel good. I’m just excited,” Murray said after the game.

“When I went to rehab, the first two months were really hard. You know that [the return] will be the real fun part, just experimenting. getting back to doing what you have to do.”

Murray finished with 18 points on 7 of 10 from the field and 4 of 5 from three. He had zero turnovers and played a very efficient brand of basketball that the Nuggets have been hoping he finds during the first half of the regular season.

Murray also said he would play tomorrow night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the second night of a doubleheader, so that would be a new development.

Gordon also had a great game, scoring 13 points and collecting seven rebounds and three assists in the process. There were possessions when Gordon outmuscled Kawhi under the basket, navigated tight spaces and finished through traffic for dunks and layups. He just played harder than the Clippers and that helped set the tone for the rest of the team.

lol 🃏

— Ryan Greene 📷 (@RyanGreeneDNVR) January 6, 2023

Best bench performance of the season

The Nuggets bench contributed a lot to tonight’s win. They were outscored because the Clippers pulled their starters in the first half, but the bench put up 60 points tonight with every regular contributor finishing with a positive plus-minus. Bones Hyland led the way with 16 points, while Vlatko Čancar contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds in his 27 minutes, as well as a steal and a block. It may have been the best all-around performance of Vlatko’s career.


— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 6, 2023

“I think overall, Vlatko has had a really good season,” Malone said. “He’s helped us win games … he’s had a lot of different nights where he’s contributed.”

“I was never the star of the team,” Cancar said after the game. “I’ve always done the little things, easy basketball and trying to connect everyone. Once everyone is part of the game, it’s a lot of fun.”

The Nuggets have found something with Vlatko, who is now averaging 9.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 20.5 minutes per game over his last six games. He even averaged a positive plus-minus (barely) off the bench during that span. This is a big development.

Bruce Brown also had a strong performance, posting nine points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in his 22 minutes. He was extremely active in his role and found ways to impact the game in every way while on the pitch.

The Nuggets CAN put up lopsided scores when they want to

The Nuggets’ net worth has been a bit shaky compared to other contenders this year. Part of this is due to the defense waxing and waning. Part of it is due to the tendency to just do what they need to do without having to blow up the other team. Heading into tonight, the Nuggets had won just three games by 20+ points, one of the lowest totals in the NBA among elite teams.

Tonight, though, the Nuggets found an early lead and absolutely ran with it. The margin just kept growing from double digits, to 20, to 30, to 38 in the second quarter alone. After that, the Nuggets didn’t give anything back, going on runs to avoid any burst of energy the Clippers generated in the second half.

“It’s not about the score,” Malone stressed. “It’s about us creating habits that will win us a championship at some point.”

There have been opportunities for the Nuggets to really stick with teams this season, but they’ve mostly stayed away. Tonight, the Nuggets worked the Clippers for the first 24 minutes and then held them at bay for the next 24 minutes. It was as strong a performance from the Nuggets as we’ve seen yet.

Final rotations

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