Inconsistency has plagued the Nuggets throughout the 2016-2017 campaign; however, this past week the Nuggets were stable and able to keep pace for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Monday, March 6:
After the Nuggets let one get away in Sacramento in what was their first game back from the All-Star break, they found themselves in a rematch against the Kings. The Nuggets won the first quarter 25-24, and never looked back. By halftime, the lead had blossomed to seven. A strong third quarter put the Nuggets up 90-73, eventually leading to a wire to wire 108-96 victory, Michael Malone’s first over his former club. Wilson Chandler had the hot hand scoring 36 points to go along with 12 rebounds. A game that did not include Nikola Jokic due to the flu, Mason Plumlee was inserted into the starting lineup and filled the void, compiling 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Wednesday, March 8:
When news broke that Danilo Gallinari (vertigo) and Nikola Jokic (Flu) would be out, it was obvious that beating the red hot Washington Wizards would not be an easy task. Washington came racing out of the gates, scoring 67 points in the first half and maintaining a 17 point lead. The Nuggets did not go down without a fight however, outscoring the Wizards in the second half, only to lose by 10. Gary Harris lead the way with 26 points, and Wilson Chandler stayed hot pouring in 21 points. Plumlee once again got the start, dropping 19 points and securing 10 rebounds. While it was a solid night for Mason Plumlee, he did not leave the game unscathed. While defending Markieff Morris late in the fourth quarter, Morris presented his best Draymond Green impression, landing a kick below the belt on Plumlee (Morris was later fined $25K).
Friday, March 10:
With Portland right on their tails, this was a game Denver had to have. The Celtics made their way to the Pepsi Center fresh off a win against the Warriors. It has been well documented that Isaiah Thomas has been on a tear, and Gary Harris was up for the challenge. The Nuggets got off to a blazing start, outscoring the Celtics 35-25 in the first quarter. Once again, the Nuggets maintained a lead and never looked back. Danilo Gallinari and Nikola Jokic made their way back into the starting lineup and combined for 41 points (Gallinari 20, Jokic 21). Nikola Jokic picked up right where he left off, needing only three assists to amass another triple double. Isaiah Thomas, the fourth quarter assassin, found himself in foul trouble and was limited in the second half. In front of a sea of green, the Nuggets were able to snatch a 119-99 win over Boston and salvage a season sweep of the Celtics.
Saturday, March 11:
With playoff aspirations, yet another match up with the lowly Kings was crucial. This was a game the Nuggets had to have. The Nuggets found themselves up ten at the break. In what was a sluggish third quarter, the Nuggets were outscored 25-21 and were showing signs of fatigue (this was indeed the second night of a back-to-back), but then Gary Harris came to the rescue. Without Harris’ energy in the third quarter, the outcome could’ve favored the Sacramento. The Kings made things interesting, pulling within two points, but the Nuggets never surrendered the lead. Behind 24 points from Gary Harris, the Nuggets pulled away for a 105-92 win. This happened to be Michael Malone’s first win in Sacramento since taking over the Nuggets head coaching job. Nikola Jokic recorded a double-double scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 boards. Mason Plumlee show cased his Jokic-like abilities when he recorded eight assists off the bench to go along with eight points and seven rebounds.
Week summed up:
The Nuggets were able to collect three wins this past week and stay in control of the eighth seed. Monday night the Lakers come to town, and if the Nuggets are serious about making the playoffs, this should result in another W. After the game against LA, the Nuggets face a brutal stretch in their schedule. It will be a good test to see where this team stands. Stay tuned to find out how they fare in next weeks “Denver Nuggets Week in Review”.