Nuggets go full gas against Mavericks to kick off NBA Cup quest
Nov 3, 2023, 11:05 PM
DENVER—The Denver Nuggets start to the NBA’s In-Season Tournament was almost as loud as the team’s court.
Rocking their new City Editon Jerseys as their sneakers squeaked on a freshly painted blue hardwood, Denver did the previously undefeated Dallas in 125-114—behind a 40-point first quarter. Superstar big man Nikola Jokic’s pristine game of 33 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists pushed the Nuggets to 5-1 on the year. It was a follow-up to the Serbian’s 107th career triple-double last home game out where he tied Mavericks coach Jason Kidd for sole possession of fourth on the league’s all-time list (not coach on Friday due to an illness.)
“They were 4-0, playing at a high level,” Micheal Malone said.
Maybe somehow just as impressive as the Joker was MPJ. The budding two-way star Michael Porter Jr. offered valued contributions, scoring 24 points and adding nine rebounds all the while being key in Denver’s defense on the inferno-hot Luka Doncic. Thanks to Porter, Aaron Gordon and crew, the Nuggets stifled Doncic to a somewhat inefficient 34 points.
“He was the defensive player of the game Mike had 11 contests, two blocks, two deflections. I thought he was locked into the game plan,” Malone said. “Switching on a guy like Luke and Kyrie (Irving) and doing the best job he can defensively. 24 points nine rebounds two blocks, and did it in a very efficient manner. So I thought Michael had his fingerprints all over the win tonight
The Nuggets will play three more In-Season Tournament group games throughout November and based on Friday’s performance the team seems to be going for a second-straight trophy. The top team from each group and a wildcard in each conference will advance to knockout play, with two rounds at home sites before a Final Four and Final in Las Vegas.
It felt like every other game but with a really blue floor,” Malone joked. “One of the coaches said, ‘Hey, man, we’re almost to Vegas and we need a couple more wins’ but I again, I think it’s great what the league is trying to do, but for me and our players this was more about us playing Dallas, a team that was undefeated, protecting our home floor, we had the second best home record in the league last year. This year we want to have the best home record in the NBA, the crowd has been fantastic as they always are. But you know you can tell the league is fully committed to it and I think it’s great that all 30 teams are getting behind it as well.”
It’s a special time to be a Nuggets fan and getting the chance to watch them even just two more times this fall with some stakes on the line is an appetizing thought. Denver didn’t quite give a playoff-level effort but it was quite a strong regular season game. If this is how the Nuggets approach the rest of what normally under Malone have been sleepy Novembers, Denver could very well end up on The Strip come December’s late rounds.
The Nuggets are back with a normal regular season game against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday and resume their quest for the NBA Cup on Nov. 14 when the Los Angeles Clippers visit 5280.