Why Nikola Jokic is the “King of the Unicorns” – animated video by Benjamin Sterne

Benjamin Sterne asked me to share the latest creations in his “Nug Sesh” animated Denver Nuggets video series, and I am more than happy to oblige, given the fantastic quality of his work. In this release, he compares Nuggets center Nikola Jokic to the NBA’s other “unicorn” big men, and makes the case for The Joker being King of them all.

If you have not done so already, I highly recommend that you subscribe to Benjamin’s YouTube channel “Dr. Skipaturner Productions” here, and follow him on Twitter @BenjaminSterne here so that you can always stay on top of his latest and greatest Nuggets video work as he drops it.

So, with no further ado, enjoy!

 

A late live tweeting of the Apr. 4 Nuggets at Pelicans game

Gary

Since, as is often the case for me, I wasn’t able to watch the April 4 Nuggets at Pelicans game live, I live tweeted it after the fact in two installments, and that’s what follows below.

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First Half

Okay, here we go. Sitting down for a delayed viewing & live tweeting of the #Nuggets at #Pelicans game. Did not stay spoiler free, though.

Nuggets open with a turnover leading to a concession dunk by AD. Get the eeling that’s not the last of those…

Gallo with the long step-back 2 and the I totally DGAF anymore hair.

Murray hits a 3 and thankfully does not do the arrow gesture. I love it at the right time – but not every time.

Jokic gets stuffed twice in a row by Davis, then ties up Boogie on the other end for a jump ball.

Murray has already passed up at least 2, maybe 3 open 3-pointers. Think he wants to play in the flow, but hesitation isn’t his game.

Jokic drives in w a crazy behind the back move and lays it in. He’s just unreal sometimes, man.

DEN fails to score on about 3-4 straight trips until a Harris tip-in. Doing a lot of stationary passing. Ball moving, players not so much.

Mudiay passes over the shoulder from the paint over to Chandler for 3, reminiscent of the passing in his SL debut.

Always a good sign when Chandler gets off to a great start, which he has in this game. Plumlee on the other end can’t stop DMC at all.

Wilson really playing aggressively now, going right at the rim on a few straight possessions. This after some made jumpers. Mixing it up.

Plumlee hardest working Nuggets on the floor through this stretch, scrapping for some tough boards. Hardest job to do on D, too w Yoke out.

Mudiay another dish out from the paint, this time to Gallo for 3. He’s looking like who we thought he was.

5:35 left in the 2nd Q. Harris fights through a screen, starting a rare solid defensive possession for Denver.

Now that it’s in the past, an unanswerable chicken/egg question: Is Mudiay playing this well *because* he spent time on the bench?

Can’t really pin down causality there, but at the very least there is precedent for the same pattern his rookie year when he got injured.

Excellent pass by Faried to Harris as he cuts to the basket.

Faried’s improvement in passing this season is one of the most visible examples of the transmutative power of the Jokic effect.

Davis drives around the elbow screen to the basket, and the seas part.

Jokic threads the needle as Harris cuts again. Denver’s bread and butter.

Was tied 65-65 w/ ~2:30 left in the half, but NOP closes w/ a 10-4 run to go up 75-69 at the break. Seventy. Five.

But since it’s past 3 in the morning, gotta catch a few winks. Will have to do the second half sometime later, hopefully tomorrow, but…

Will miss HOU as well, so probably I’ll delayed live tweet that first b4 finishing the 2nd half of the Pels game. Sorry if it’s confusing.

 

Second Half

I only got through the 1st half of “live” tweeting the #Nuggets @ Pelicans last night, so I’m gonna finish it now b4 moving onto Houston

And then after watching HOU tomorrow, I’ll be all caught up before the Pelicans rematch. (Hopefully.) Wish I could watch it all live.

So, here goes, 2nd half of the Apr. 4 DEN @ NOP game…

Murray w/ a great pass on the drive to Plumlee who cuts for the dunk. Good for them to be developing good chemistry.

After Jokic ties it up w/ a bizarre shot off the glass from the high post, Plumlee hits a floater in the lane to put DEN up 87-85.

I doubt Plumlee will ever have range beyond 3 feet, but if he developed even a semi-reliable floater/hook in the lane, that would help.

Harris with a great spin move in the lane for the layup. He just keeps getting craftier in finding creative ways of getting to the rim.

Murray in transition w a jump pass at the arc right into 3 Pels, turns it over, easy layup the other way for Jrue.

Can’t wait to see Murray after SL & training camp next season, reducing rook mistakes, hitting the open 3s he’s missing now. Big leap ahead.

One of those stretches: DEN getting the looks they want, but shots not falling, and can’t stop anything the other way. NOP back up 5.

lol Gallo WAY off to the left on a 3 to end the 3rd but it banks in. I’m sure later he said he meant to do that. Brings DEN w/in 3.

Gallo to Mudiay, wide open catch-and-shoot 3. He’s .356 on C&S 3s on 2.3 3ptA/G this season, up from .343 on 2.0 3ptA/G last year.

Boogie torpedoes the entry pass into Crawford for the layup. He’s no Jokic, but he’s a really good passer.

Mudiay nails another open C&S 3, but Cousins answers right back w/ a 3 of his own. Then Harris 2, Harris steal, Murray 2, DEN on a run.

Mudiay to Gallo for 3 this time, his 7th dime, Nuggs go up 9 w/ 6:53 remaining. Got 3 consecutive stops by my count – an all too rare sight.

All of Mudiay, Murray, and Harris playing so well in this game, it’s hard to justify (even if healthy) why Malone started Jameer vs HOU.

With Nuggets up 5 w/ just under 3 min left, Harris banks in a huge 3 off a Jokic screen. Marlowe says “Oh, yeah!”

Refs bail out Gallo, who goes to the line & puts Nuggets up 7 with 1:26 remaining.

Meanwhile (and perhaps more interestingly), Malone off to the side has the ear of Murray, who listens attentively.

Which is another of the many reasons to believe Murray is set for a big jump next season: His attentiveness, his drive to get better.

Boogie answers with another huge 3 to cut Denver’s lead back to 4 with 1:17 remaining.

I know the outcome of this game, but it’s still pretty exciting and fun to watch how it unfolds…

Just under 40 seconds left, Jokic makes 1 of 2 FTs after a Davis oop, 131-128 Denver.

Gallo gets duped into no-man’s land, Boogie left wide open for the 3, ties it up. Nuggets fans must’ve been thinking “here we go again…”

Just like against Miami (twice? three times?) Nuggets can’t inbound, have to call time out. Maybe put this on the docket for training camp?

Wilson gets to the line, drawing a foul on Boogie on the drive, misses the first, sinks the second, Nuggets up 1 w/ 18.2 on the clock.

Like Chandler, Mudiay makes one of two FTs after being fouled on the inbound play. Nuggets use last foul to give, up 2, 9.3 left.

And there it is, Harris game-winning steal, DEN holds on to win. Unlikely, but if they make the playoffs, one of the season’s biggets plays.

And that’s all she wrote. Tomorrow, catching up with the Houston game if I have the intestinal fortitude to do so.

 

 

It’s not too late for the Nuggets to improve their draft position by tanking hard

Denver Nuggets v Oklahoma City Thunder

Although the Denver Nuggets have not yet been mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs, their road to the postseason has now become so implausible as to be nearly insurmountable.

After the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the tanking Phoenix Suns yesterday, extending their current winning streak to six games, they are now a full two games ahead of Denver in the standings, though that number is effectively three, as the Blazers hold the tiebreaker between the two teams. With just six games remaining for Portland, and seven for Denver, this means that any combination of Nuggets losses and Blazers wins totaling four will officially end Denver’s postseason aspirations.

And realistically, though some Nuggets fans are still holding onto that last sliver of hope, it is now a near certainty that Portland, and not Denver, will clinch the 8th seed in the Western Conference. This point is unambiguously driven home by FiveThirtyEight’s NBA forecast, which gives the Blazers a 99 percent chance, and the Nuggets a mere 1 percent chance, of making the final cut.

The silver lining for the Nuggets, however, is that it is not too late to meaningfully improve their draft position by tanking. Let’s first take a look at the current draft standings as presented by Tankathon.com:

tank

As you can see, the Nuggets are currently near the bottom of the draft lottery, in 13th place. Importantly, however, they share the same total of 35 wins with the two teams in 12th and 11th, the Charlotte Hornets and the Detroit Pistons.

Additionally, the Nuggets have two more games with the New Orleans Pelicans, who are currently in 10th place in the lottery standings with 33 wins – which just happens to be two less than Denver.

tank2

What this all adds up to is that if the Nuggets lose out the remainder of their last seven games, and finish with a 35-47 record, they can do no worse than finish in a four-way tie for 10th. The Pelicans, however, are not tanking, having won their last two games and seven of their last 10. And while Detroit and Charlotte both have fairly brutal closing schedules, it seems unlikely that both teams would finish the season without at least one single win.

So if the Nuggets do finish 0-7, they have a very good chance of climbing from 13th to 11th or even 10th in the draft lottery standings. And while even a jump to 10th would only improve their odds of landing a top three pick from 2.2 percent to 4 percent, the difference between the best player available at 10 and 13 could very well be quite significant.

When the Nuggets continue their five-game road trip at the Miami Heat tonight, Jameer Nelson and Will Barton will both be out, and as the Denver Post’s Nick Kosmider reports, Denver has called back Malik Beasley from the D-League, and he along with Emmanuel Mudiay are both expected to see “extensive” minutes:

This opens up what may be the Nuggets’ last best chance to finish the season with a positive outcome by tanking the rest of the way out, and thereby increasing their chances of landing a player this summer who can truly make an impact as part of Denver’s young core of the future.

 

 

Reliving the pain: A late “live” tweeting of the 3/20 Nuggets at Rockets game

HouLoss

I’m posting this late because I just finished it. I watched the first half before the March 22nd Cavs game, and the second half after. Although it’s one of the worst losses and most difficult pills to swallow of this season, it is also an important moment in shaping the development of this young team, who bounced back and responded exceptionally well by trouncing Cleveland in the following game.

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Okay, sitting down now to watch the replay of the last #Nuggets game (loss in Houston). I’ll be “live” tweeting it. Bracing for the pain.

Perhaps this tiime it’s fortunate that I already know the result. Tomorrow I’ll be doing the same w/ Cavs game, but spoiler free if I can.

I do know the score to this one, so I won’t feel the shock, though I’m sure I’ll feel the frustration. But I don’t know the details well.

Okay, here we go, opening tip goes to the Rockets, Harden misses the 3 after Plumlee switches onto him, Harris drives in for the layup.

Houston getting to the rim pretty easily on some possessions. Seems like a no-brainer that the Nuggets need better rim protection but…

…when they’re doing such a poor job of denying at the perimeter, we got sort of a chicken/egg situation.

Rockets go up 12-6 early on a Harden steal, Malone wants to put the brakes on it and calls time out.

Jokic rightfully has gotten the lion’s share of the limelight this season, but Harris is really emerging as such a complete player.So good.

Nuggets continue switching Plumlee onto Harden, with mostly not-great results.

This Rockets announcer guy: “Why would you want to call yourself Yokic, and not Jokic? Because you wouldn’t call yourself the Yoker.”

“If you didn’t like the Yoker, what would that be, egg whites or something?” Are these words really coming out of this dude’s mouth?

Another turnover for Jokic. Whenever he gets doubled, the Nuggets seems to always have 4 guys loaded up over on the weak side.

Gotta do a better job of sending help his way so he has better options to pass out of the double.

Nuggets sloppy with the ball here in the 1st. Out of the timeout Jamal immediately turns it over. Ariza steal and dunk. Bad look.

9 points off turnovers already with about 2 min left in 1st Q. Malone must have been superfly TNT.

Nuggets close the gap from (iirc) 12 to 7 to end the 1st. They might survive bad defense OR too many turnovers vs good teams. But not both.

I’m still catching up after being out of town. Is Malone actually trying to fold Mudiay back into the rotation, or is it just bc injuries?

This Jokic-Juancho-Barton-Mudiay-Murray lineup putting together a huge run for the Nuggets. Feels counterintuitive to me.

Trying to pinpoint reason why I feel like that lineup should be less effective than it has. Think it’s having both Barton & Mudiay in it.

Barton hacked by Gordon, no call. Mudiay hacked by Gordon, they get it right the 2nd time. And Emmanual sinks both his FTs.

Mudiay has actually looked really solid in this game. Are we seeing this season’s episode of a better Mudiay emerging after a hiatus?

Was this our first time to see this #Nuggets lineup of the future this season? Off the top of my head, I think maybe so.

If Nuggets players as much as fart in the general vicinity of Harden he gets the whistle.

Overall a pretty great 2nd quarter from Denver, especially by their young bench unit. Tons of promise in the #Nuggets’ future.

Unfortunately, it’s just after 3 a.m. and I’m just a primate who requires sleep to function, so I’ll have to save the 2nd half for later.

I never finished watching/live tweeting the 2nd half of the 3/20 #Nuggets @ #Rockets game. So bc I’m a glutton for punishment, here goes…

I know it’s a few days late, so apologies in advance if it causes confusion. But this is my chance to get caught up b4 the Indy game.

Nuggets start the 2nd half with the ball, 3 points up on the Rockets. Both teams start off cold, only scoring on 1 of about 5 possessions.

Jokic, taking  scoring initiative, gets Capela in foul trouble & D’Antoni sends in Nene. But Jokic scores on post-up w/ Anderson on him.

Harris w/ a great drive & floater for the and-1 chance. Ryan Anderson, maybe the NBA’s most egregious flopper now, flails on the ground.

Halfway through the 3rd quarter, both teams keeping apace of each other, Nuggets maintaining their 3-point halftime lead.

After going up by 5, Nuggets leave Ariza wide open in the corner, and his 3 caps a 7-2 HOU run that ties up the game. Malone calls time.

Harden loves getting bigs switched onto him. Abused Juancho earlier, froze up Plumlee on a drive just now. Little they can do to stop him.

And Harden gets Juancho switched onto him again, makes a nice fake to create space, sinks the 3.

Murray hits a big 3 from 4-5 feet behind arc to tie it back up. His execution on it’s still inconsistent, but he’s got that killer instinct.

D’Antoni absolutely screaming at the refs when Harden gets called for a foul on Murray after pretty much bear hugging him from behind.

D’Antoni absolutely screaming at the refs when Harden gets called for a foul on Murray after pretty much bear hugging him from behind.

Okay here we go, start of the 4th quarter of the 3/20 Nuggets at Rockets game. Dreading what comes next. #couragemerry #courageforourfriends

Jameer over-dribbling gets a ton of hate. But let’s be honest, Jamal does it pretty often, too. Eg 1 min into the 4th between Gordon’s 2 3s.

That’s not to say expectations shouldn’t be higher for Jameer as vet (they should) or that value of Jamal getting time isn’t higher (it ist)

Which doesn’t answer the strategic/philosophical question of development vs win now, but maybe Jameer gets a worse rap than merited.

But I do think it’s fair to say that expecting better outcomes *right now* by playing Jamal over Jameer could also result in disappintment.

After a loose ball scramble resulting in Mudiay fouling Beverly, the latter hits a big 3-pointer & HOU goes up 3, crowd goes wild.

9:50 left in the 4th, Murray gets ball at arc w 10 sec left on shot clock, dribbles back nearly to half court, then…

…runs the clock down to 4 seconds without moving the ball, and takes a 3 from about 8 feet beyond the arc.

I love Murray as much as any Nuggets fans, all I’m saying is maybe before bashing Jameer too badly, be cognizant he does this stuff, too.

The Rockets had gone up 6, but Nuggets go on 5-1 run as Harris hits a 3 to close the lead to 2 – and get his career high 28 points.

Harden’s ability to switch speeds multiple times when driving to the rim never stops being impressive.

Just >3 min left, Juancho switches onto Harden at the elbow. Actually does a solid job staying in front of him, beard sinks the j anyhow.

Jokic gets the ball in the low post, gets doubled, powers in for the layup anyhow.

Refs correctly reverse offensive goaltending call on Juancho, Nuggets close to within 2 w/ 1:41 remaining.

Glad I already know the results of this one so I can avoid falling into the trap of getting my hopes up.

Harden & Barton trade 3s, Nene turns it over, Barton floats it in, and completes the 3-point play to put DEN up 1 w 42.1 left.

At this point I believe it is incumbent upon me to provide a trigger warning for those of you who may find reliving this moment too painful.

Annnd there’s that very terrible horrible ending I’ve heard so much about. Yep – bad as advertised, in just about every possible way.

Jameer should definitely have gotten the ball to Jokic early in the possession. That was a massive mistake for sure.

That should be a hard and steadfast rule for the Nuggets in game-on-line situations: A.G.J. Always Get it to Jokic.

And letting Harden go coast to coast is inexcusable, as was the final ATO play (whether or not it was run as drawn up). Ugh.

Well, that’s it. All caught up now & ready to get about 4 hours sleep before the Pacers game, which will hopefully have a happieer ending.

 

Recap-ish: Quasi-live tweeting of the Nuggets’ huge win over the Cavs

Jokic

Although I wasn’t able to watch Denver’s big win over Cleveland live, I stayed spoiler-free, and “live”-tweeted as I watched it after the fact. That live tweeting thread is what follows.

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Back from work. Kept spoiler-free on the Cavs game, so I’m about to watch and “live” tweet it post hoc. Won’t be reading/replying till done.

I said before the game I thought the Nuggets had a shot, so I already either look smart or dumb for that. About to find out which.

Nuggets go up 10-9, but it’s 5 2s for DEN and 3 3s for CLE. Doesn’t bode well for DEN to let them shoot open 3s all game.

After Chandler misses another 3, Faried steals, Jameer opts out on a 3, passes to Jokic, who dishes it back to him for C&S off screen.

Once again Nuggets seem not to be getting their offense consistently running through Jokic, but when they do, results (usually) good.

2nd straight possession, Nuggets pass on worse shots, run it throuh Jokic who finds a cutting Chandler for easy layup. Good sign (I hope.)

Nuggets doing a good job executing their offense so far. Korver returns to action for this one – that’s a concern.

Shump wears his headband in a weird way.

Frye tries a post-up on Juancho, who defends it well and gets the rebound.

Harris just powers right through the Korver-Frye double and draws the foul driving to the basket.

Cavs trim the Nuggets’ lead down to 3 on a Korver 3 to end the 1st quarter, which for the most part was pretty solid for DEN.

Ball movement absolutely dies to begin 2nd quarter. Murray dribbles, Barton dribbles, Plumlee dribbles. Clock reset, Juancho dribbles, miss.

Uh-oh. LeBron has awakened and started LeBron-ing. 2 straight drive & dunks, Malone calls time.

Afer missing a short jumper, Murray nails a 3. Nuggets could really use him heating up right about now, especially with Gallo out.

And boom, there it is, Jamal dribbles out to the arc and hits another 3 after a Chandler miss.

Murray makes ANOTHER 3 and suddenly the Nuggets are up 10. No matter the outcome of this game, this is beautiful to see.

Well that was a crazy sequence capped off by Jefferson’s hard foul on Juancho.

I don’t think that was intentional by Jefferson, but flagrant 1 was the right call. He smacked Juancho right in the honker.

Juancho hits 1 of 2 on the flagrant FTs, Barton sinks a 3, Nuggets go up 61-47. But now LeBron’s pissed on that no call, so I’m worried.

w/ 2:36 left in 2nd Q: Harris > Nelson > Barton > Harris (Jokic screen, Harris drive & kick) > Jameer D&K > Barton > Harris for open made 3.

When the Nuggets are playing ball-sharing, unselfish offense like that, it truly is a thing of beauty.

And another made 3 by Harris from the same spot puts he Nuggets up 20. So add another 15-20 points to that lead and it might be safe.

NOT a foul by Harris, he totally avoided contact. But of course the refs reward Irving anyhow bc obv the defending champs need their help.

Ball lie.

Nuggets, Cavs trade a couple of 3s, then a couple pairs of 2s, DEN maintaining their 14-pt halftime lead, timeout CLE.

Had that wrong before, Nuggets lead was 16 going into the timeout, but LBJ hits the J off a screen to cut it to 14.

With about 9:35 left in the third, Nuggets killing it in the paint, 34-14.

Had been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and there it is. Cavs cut the lead to 7. No lead is safe with the Nuggets.

Faried putting in some great minutes here and giving the Nuggets a badly needed spark of energy to quell CLE’s momentum. DEN back up 13.

Lue gets T’d up after Jameer’s hard foul on Irving.

3:01 left in the 3rd. Jokic isos, posting up against LeBron, who defends him pretty well, but not well enough. Jokic hooks it up over him.

And the Pepsi Center goes wild.

Jokic misses a 3 in transition. Probably not his greatest decision of the night, but he’s so reliable, hard to second-guess him.

Nuggets take an 11-point lead into the 4th, but momentum is going the Cavs’ way. High anxiety time.

4th Q opens w missed Cavs 3, Murray to Kenneth for 2, another missed Cavs 3, Wilson with a bigtime tough shot and-1 (made). DEN back up 16.

LeBron lowers the shouldner into Faried, Faried gets called for the blocking foul. Of course.

Chandler now 2 of 3 backing down Korver. Smells blood there. Nuggets up 18 with 8:53 remaining. More nervous than ever now.

Jamal Murray, with 7:27 remaining in the 4th: 14 pts on 5/9 shooting (3/6 from 3) in 16 minutes. (Maybe actually 16 pts after the made FTs.)

Absolutely stunning reverse layup by Harris with 7:00 remaining in the 4th. Nuggets up 17. Can I dare to dream yet…? (Nope. Not yet.)

Cavs announcer: “Standing ovation at the Pepsi Center, and frankly well deserved. The Nuggets have been in attack mode from the get-go.”

But this ain’t over yet. (Well, it actually is, of course, but just not from where I’m sitting.)

Faried goes out after getting fouled by Frye (Jokic in w 6:04 left.) Easily one of Kenneth’s best games of the season, I’d say.

Interesting moment w 4:20 left. Murray has ball but Jokic totally QB’ing the offense, directing Jamal to hold up, setting up the play.

122-104 with 2:38 left. Holy crap, they actually pulled this one out, didn’t they?

Jokic goes out with 1:11 left with 16/10/7. Low key very good game from him.

Maybe the best win of the #Nuggets’ season against defending champ #Cavs, in no small part because of its importance in their playoff hunt.

Well, it’s good to know I’m not crazy. 😉

 

 

Recap? Live tweeting of Nuggets’ 3/16 win over Clippers

Barton

On Thursday night, the Nuggets achieved a four-game winning streak for the first time this season in a victory over the Clippers that kept them at the head of the pack competin for the 8th seed in the Western Conference. They have now won 8 of their last 11 games.

I’m not sure how many of you will actually want to read this, but I just wanted to  preserve it for archival purposes as my documentation of one of the Nuggets’ most important wins of the season, since Twitter just is not conducive to that end.

So, what follows below is my live tweeting of Denver’s big win. Or rather, an after-the-fact “live” tweeting I did watching a spoiler-free delayed recording of the game as if it were live.

I should preface this by saying something I didn’t mention at the time on Twitter, which is that Will Barton should get a huge amount of credit. I have been quite critical of his performance of late, and while I don’t think that was necessarily off base, what is undeniable is that Coach Malone called him out and asked him to step up, and man, has he delivered in the last two games, including a career high in this one. So kudos to Will the Thrill for coming through when the Nuggets badly needed him in the absence of Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.

What follows is the thread I tweeted while watching the game.

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Okay. Today I avoided seeing the results of the #Clippers at #Nuggets game, I don’t know what happened, and I’m about to watch it.

I’ll be live tweeting the game from my POV, as I watch it for my first time. But, most of you already saw it, or at least know the score.

So my apologies, but I won’t be reading or replying to any of your tweets as I live tweet this, so as to make sure I avoid spoilers.

All right, so here we go. Hope the Nuggets got the win, but bracing myself for a loss. W/ DEN’s D, Those 3-popint shooters LAC has worry me.

Solid start by the Nuggets, all 8 of their first points scored in the paint, a LAC’s 4 both jumpers.

Clippers go up 11-8, Plumlee is forcing way too many post ups, Nuggets need to get the offense running through Jokic more.

Faried in, I imagine Adam might have something to say about his short corner gravity drawing in the D to clear lame for Murray’s layup.

Marlowe thanks Harrison for a correction on the broadcast.  🙂

Nuggets have opened up a 10 point lead late in the 1st, really taking advantage of BG/DJ absence to dominate the paint.

That might be a no-brainer game plan, but it’s a good game plan, and more importantly, well executed. (So far.)

Wow. Faried oop to Plumlee. Kenneth not usually on that side of the equation.  #JokicEffect

Actually very impressed with Faried’s play thus far. Had worried he’d been rushed back, but he’s looked ready, has his hops.

JJ picking apart Denver’s 3pt defense, but LAC can’t stop DEN in the paint. Malone calls timeout to talk D w Nuggets up 11.

Harris hits a big 3 to stop the bleeding after the Nuggets start pulling a late quarter collapse job out of the timeout. 2:18 left in 2nd Q.

Malone draws up great play after timeout, Jokic and Jameer execute it perfectly as Nelson nails the 3 to put Nuggets up 13 at the half.

Oof. Horrible start to the 3rd. LAC cuts deficit from 13 to 6 in under 2 minutes. Denver D discombobulated.

I have very high hopes for Juancho. But his defensive shortcomings are leaving the Nuggets badly exposed in this 3rd quarter.

But Harris and Nelson answer right back with 3-pointers of their own and Denver’s back up by 13.

Faried cuts with power for the and-1, but misses  FT. With Plumlee starting, I think I like this rotation, subbing Kenneth in w Jokic on.

Haven’t seen much of the Plumlee-Faried one-two punch with Kenneth’s injury, but that’s a ton of relentless energy to throw at opponents.

Lol Crawford.

Clippers had success getting physical with Nuggets to start 3rd. Denver pushing back hard now, extend their lead to 19.

Which unfortunately makes me fear that in next 5 minutes they’ll let the lead slip back to single digits. Hope not. Twist that dagger in.

Big 3 by Murray, gets a great look the next time down, but can’t convert. But man, once he gets more consistent with those…

A small but significant thing: Murray crosses half court with ball with 0:17 left in 3rd, immediately looks to Malone for play call.

The nuggets couldn’t have responded better to a tough start to the 3rd quarter that all too recently would have resulted in a collapse.

Instead, they take a 23-point lead into the 4th. Now, they better have &*#√^<$ finished the job.

Chris Paul is so damn great. Yeah, I’m Captain Obvious. But really it’s a pleasure to watch him display his skills – when LAC is down 20.

Uh guys, lead down to 14,getting nervous now…

5 minutes left, lead down to 14,Jameer nails a 3 from pretty much the Pepsi logo. Nuggets badly needed that.

Whew. Great win, but they can never do it without a scare.