NUGGETS

As the Nuggets regain their form, the Avalanche’s injuries catch up to them

Mar 22, 2023, 9:33 PM | Updated: Mar 23, 2023, 3:07 pm

It was role reversal night for the Nuggets and Avalanche.

Well, at least their recent roles.

The Nuggets concluded a nice 3-2 road trip, using a monster second half to take down the hapless Wizards, 118-104. Denver actually trailed by two points at halftime, before a beautiful 39-16 third quarter put Washington’s “B team” to bed. The Wizards played without Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma.

And who else but Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets? He was masterful as always, putting up 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in another evening at the office. He might not catch Joel Embiid for MVP, but that would be the national media’s fault, not The Joker’s. After the game, head coach Michael Malone commented on how toxic the conversation has become.

“This year has taken an ugly, nasty turn in the MVP conversation. And I think it’s turned a lot of people off,” Malone said. “It’s not promoting my guy, it’s tearing down every other guy. And that’s just ridiculous.”

You can thank folks like Kendrick Perkins for that perfectly reasonable assessment, as Malone sounded much more level-headed than a lot of folks given huge platforms.

Meanwhile, the injuries to the Avalanche appeared to catch up to them in a home date with the Penguins. You can only miss Cale Makar, Gabriel Landeskog, Artturi Lehkonen, Evan Rodrigues, Josh Manson and Erik Johnson for so long. A desperate Pittsburgh team took it to the Avs, 5-2, as they battle for their playoff lives in the Eastern Conference.

Colorado missed a chance to tie Dallas and Minnesota atop the Central Division, but in my opinion health should be the focus moving forward, not seeding. This Avalanche team didn’t lose a single playoff game on the road a season ago in the entire Western Conference playoffs. It doesn’t matter where they play, it’s about who’s out there.

And Wednesday night is what makes sports fun. Just when narratives about the Nuggets and Avs were developing, each team flipped the script. One in a good win, one in a frustrating loss.

The reality, however, is no one will remember March 22 come this spring and summer. It’ll be all about how far each team goes in the postseason, something that is looming in less than a month.

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As the Nuggets regain their form, the Avalanche’s injuries catch up to them