After losing three of their last four matches, it was Denver Nuggets They were looking forward to starting their game against Oklahoma City Thunder Hot, and they did just that when they jumped out to a 13-5 lead in the first three minutes of the game. Over the next few minutes, the two sides traded buckets, but Denver started to punt. Denver scored eight unanswered goals over two minutes, swelling their lead to 24-10. Nikola Jokic climbed to 14 points in seven minutes as the team held a 31-14 lead. With three minutes remaining in the quarter, Denver held a 33-16 lead despite playing without seven players, including two starters. Denver’s lead ran up to 19 points in the closing minutes of the quarter, and they were heading into second place with a lead of 38-21.
The second unit of the skeleton started in the second trading baskets, and we were seeing some players who don’t usually get minutes showcasing their skills. Jack White, Flatko Kanar and Zeke Nnaji all played long minutes and worked hard at both ends to keep the team’s big lead. By the time Aaron Gordon got back into the game with 8:45 to go in the second quarter, the lead was 44-27 in favor of Denver. Jokic and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope re-entered, and the lead continued to be maintained by 17 points. The two sides traded buckets before Michael Malone called a timeout to refocus his team. Over the next few minutes, Denver’s starting unit was slowly letting it slip. After leading by 17, that lead fell to nine with four minutes remaining in the half. OKC crept to within seven with 2:30 remaining, and the team was just continuing to bleed points. Bruce Brown ended a streak of five minutes without a field goal for the team with just under 1:00 remaining in the quarter. OKC had three points, but Jokic hit a few late sets to give the Nuggets a 69-63 lead at the half.
The Thunder’s hot streak held on to start the second half, and they tied the game at 72 less than three minutes into the third before going three out on their next outpost to get their first lead of the night. Thunder was making an effort to stop Jokic from hitting them, and no one else on the Nuggets was paying them for it. They were 2 of 11 in the quarter, and the Thunder had an 80-74 lead with 5:39 to go in the quarter. Going into the quarter, it looked like two completely different teams were on the floor. Denver looked like they were completely gassed, and the Thunder seemed like they were getting stronger. Denver was trailing by 11 with 2:00 left in the quarter when the team’s second unit came back into the game. Denver continued to miss every shot they took, and they scored just 15 points in the quarter while trailing 97-84 heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter started as the third stalled with Denver turning the ball over while Josh Geddy got a layup on the edge on the other end. The Nuggets went on to lead 11-0 over the next few minutes, and they had cut the lead to four with 9:02 to go in the game. Denver went two minutes without scoring to fall behind by eight again. Isaiah Goe led by nine after some back-and-forth scoring, but Denver was hanging around. The two sides would trade buckets back and forth before Gordon got Denver to one with just under 4:00 to go in the game. Gordon was so hot, he had eight scores on three possessions to continue matching OKC’s scoring. The only problem was that Thunder was recording over and over again on the other end. Aleksej Pokusevski went 1 of 2 on the line with a chance to go up by 3 points for the Thunder. Gordon tied the game at 120 with 47.3 remaining on a great feed from Jokic under the rim. Both teams had a chance to take the lead on their final possessions but neither could do so resulting in the overtime tie in this game at 120.
Denver started overtime with some quick points to lead by five, but the offense was still dealing with some warts. Two offensive passes gave Denver a 40-second possession that eventually ended up with a five-point lead and a Thunder timeout with 1:29 left in the game. Jokic made his fourth foul with just over a minute left, and the Thunder swung to stay in the game. The Thunder saved the ball from going out of bounds on a jump ball, and they drilled a 3-pointer to come within two with 36 seconds left. After a long, patient possession, the Browns got the ball and drove to the edge of the float, and Denver made it back to four. Jokic hit a pair of free throws late on to lead by five, and the Nuggets Claw recovered from 13 points to win 131-126.
points: Nikola Jokic – 39
Helps: Bruce Brown – 10
Follow-ups: Brown – 13
game player: Nikola Jokic – 39 points, 9 assists, 10 rebounds, 11 of 15 field goals, 1 of 3 3 points, 16 of 18 free throws