The Nuggets scored a season high 132 points against the Trailblazers Thursday night. The team put on an offensive clinic, shooting over 50% from the field for the game. To no one’s surprise, Mike Malone switched up the starting lineup once again for tonight’s match up. He went with an offensive minded front court, inserting Nikola Jokic (8th start of the season) and Wilson Chandler (2nd start of the season) to play alongside Danilo Gallinari. The trio combined for 57 points. It looks as though Mike Malone took the criticism to heart, and realized Nikola Jokic should most definitely be in the starting lineup on a nightly basis. We saw Jokic’s passing instincts and court vision on full display Thursday night. Needless to say, the Nuggets had no problem scoring the ball against Portland.
Now, the moment we have all been waiting for, the return of Gary Harris. Arguably the Nuggets’ best two-way player, Harris had a return for the ages. Harris scored 18 points on 7-11 shooting from the field, 3-4 from downtown, in 31 minutes of play. Could Gary Harris have been the missing piece all along? Harris is more than just a 3 and D guy. He gives the offense more flow, fluidity, and rhythm. The ball moves better around the perimeter when he is on the court. Harris led the Nuggets in assists with 6, showing that he also can contribute as a playmaker for others. Also, with the return of Harris, Will Barton can now comfortably move back to his bench role that made him such an impact player last season. Harris can do it all for the Nuggets. Not only is he a glue guy, but he can score and defend as well. He just might be the missing piece to this young puzzle.
All five starters scored in double figures tonight, along with three bench players. There was no shortage of offense tonight. Has Mike Malone finally found a starting lineup that he can commit to for the long run? The ball was moving well tonight, and Gary Harris definitely played a huge role in that respect. Is it safe to say that a Gary Harris return and a win over Portland may be a turning point in the season for the Nuggets?