The Denver Nuggets are getting on a roll at just the right time. By defeating the Indiana Pacers 107-104 at home Tuesday night the Nuggets continue to inch close to a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Nikola Jokic led the way with 30 points while Will Barton added a 24 point 10 rebound double-double. Victor Oladipo was the leader for the Pacers with 25 points.
Will Barton got things going early, in a big way. Barton scored all of Denver’s first nine points leading to an early Indiana timeout. The run sent a message that Denver came ready to compete by running and attacking the basket in transition.
Will Barton is roughly on pace for about 144 points tonight
— Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash) April 4, 2018
Mid-way through the first the Nuggets were shooting better than 72% from the field. The Pacers did make a mini-run after Jokic checked out in the first quarter, but the Nuggets did show an ability to compete in what was always going to be a tough game, despite the poor shooting to close the quarter. While the Nuggets were 8/11 to start the quarter, they finished 12/27.
The struggles continued into the second quarter as the Nuggets missed nine straight three pointers after the initial Barton make. The lack of shot making led to a 12-1 Indiana run. Despite the absolutely poor shooting the Nuggets kept playing on the defensive end with several steals and blocks just waiting to get going on offense.
Nuggets are just grinding their way through these second quarter possessions…
— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) April 4, 2018
Jamal Murray hit the clutch step-through just before the half-time buzzer to give the Nuggets some momentum heading into the locker room. That shot gave the Nuggets a three-point advantage in a low-scoring half by their standards, 49-46.
Masked Chandler was finally unveiled in the second half after a friendly bounce got him going. He hit his second three on the next possession to put the Nuggets up 12 in the second half in a hurry. Not so fast though, Indiana came back within four points after some sloppy play and poor decision making on the offensive end that led to run-outs for the Pacers in transition.
Now, if you thought that was it for the swinging runs you were very wrong. The Nuggets went back on a counter 10-0 run of their own to regain the 14-point lead on a beautiful coast-to-coast possession featuring a “Millslap” and a smooth dish from Plumlee to Barton for the slam. Unfortunately, Denver couldn’t get out of their own way to end the third, leading to only a four point advantage before the final frame.
Oladipo was on fire throughout the majority of the fourth creating for himself and others, consistently trimming the Nuggets lead. When things got tight down the stretch the Blue Arrow made his clutch appearance, hitting the open corner three to ease some of the tension, at least momentarily. Millsap continued his impressive defensive effort as Denver went on a 7-0 run with just over two minutes remaining. The Tom Brady jumbo-tron booing strategy worked to perfection as the Pacers missed both free throws allowing the Nuggets to put the game away late.
Denver improved their record to 43-35 and are now within half a game of the eight seed in the Western Conference. The Nuggets will be back in action in a huge game against the Timberwolves on Thursday night on TNT.