Nuggets surge past possible playoff foe with impressive turnaround

Feb 28, 2024, 9:36 PM | Updated: Feb 29, 2024, 10:22 am

DENVER—For the second straight game, the Denver Nuggets found themselves down by double digits in the second quarter and again the team not only erased the deficit but wound up with a blowout win.

The Nuggets came back from down 15 in the first half on Wednesday to beat the Sacramento Kings 117-96. Denver not only erased the lead by halftime but sped out to a big lead thanks to a 68-21 marathon over 20 minutes sandwiching the break. The moment the game shifted was clear, it was when Aaron Gordon checked back into the game after his first rest. Denver was down 15 when Micheal Malone called on AG and he brought the physicality to match the Kings and sparked an avalanche of good hoops.

“When he plays like that and gets to that level, that attack mindset, he becomes such a difference maker for everyone,” Malone said of Gordon. “So you look at the plus-minus and Aaron was a plus-40 in 24 minutes. That’s incredible. Six assists, six rebounds, no turnovers—I thought he was phenomenal.”

Next thing Sac knew, Nikola Jokic, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Michael Porter Jr. were on a roll that couldn’t be stopped. Jokic notched his fourth-straight triple-double, all of which have been completed before the beginning of the fourth quarter. The star center ended with 14 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists as he sat out the final period. MPJ was among, AG and KCP, who all ended in double-figures while Jamal Murray joined in on the fun and tallied a game-high 32 points on 13-of-15 shooting.

“We were definitely a late-arriving team tonight. That first quarter, they they jumped us a little bit, but after quarter one, our defense was outstanding, and we held them to 61 points the last three quarters” Malone said. “I just felt their energy level, commitment, and communication really picked up and that allowed us to get out and run… that was really great to see us kind of flip the switch and get back to playing Denver Nuggets basketball.”

The Nuggets stay put at third in the West at 40-19, a game back of the second-place Thunder and two behind the Wolves. Meanwhile, the Kings are 33-25 and sitting in eighth place, among a group of teams that are shaping up to be the most likely matchup for Denver in the first round. Wednesday’s effort avoided a season sweep by the Kings of the Nuggets but they were without star guard De’Aaron Fox and no game in this year’s series has had a fully healthy lineup.

It’s good for the Nuggets that most of the starters could take the fourth off with Denver’s penultimate back-to-back of the season completing with an NBA Finals rematch against the Heat in Colorado on Thursday. Though it’s iffy if Murray will be a go.


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