Denver Nuggets 113, New York Knicks 99: Three Takeaways

Social & Digital Content Manager

There are some days where everything goes your way, and for one Saturday afternoon in New York City, that was the case for the Denver Nuggets. Led by the reigning MVP Nikola Jokić, Denver used a third-quarter surge to cruise to a 113-99 victory over the New York Knicks.

Neither team gained an advantage during the early going of Saturday’s contest, as Denver had a slight 17-15 lead with five minutes remaining in the first quarter, thanks due to eight points from Jokić during that opening stretch. The Nuggets moved the ball effectively throughout the first frame, dishing out nine assists (on 12 made shots). After the first 12 minutes, Denver led 30-25.

Defense was the name of the game to open the second quarter, as Denver extended the lead to 44-28 with just over six minutes remaining in the first half. The Nuggets caught fire from beyond the arc in the second quarter and ultimately finished with 10 triples at the halftime break. New York responded with a quick 6-0 run to get back into the game, and Denver eventually took a 60-49 lead into the break. Zeke Nnaji made the most of his opportunity in the first half, dropping 16 points in 13 minutes of action.

The Knicks slowly chipped away at Denver’s lead to begin the second half, eventually cutting it down to six points after the first four minutes of the third quarter. The remainder of the quarter was completely dominated by the Nuggets, who used a 23-3 run to open up a 26-point lead, with Jokić doing most of the damage. The Serbian big man had 32 points after three quarters as Denver took a 92-71 lead into the fourth and final frame.

The Nuggets continued to pour it on to begin the fourth quarter, extending the lead to 30 following some more hot shooting from downtown. Although New York slowly reduced the deficit throughout the remainder of the game, Denver comfortably closed out the road win.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s win.

Nnaji stepped up off the bench

Denver’s sophomore big man has certainly made the most of his opportunities this season, with Saturday’s game being another showcase for what Nnaji can do on both ends of the floor.

After dropping 16 in the first half, Nnaji finished with 21 points in his 34 minutes of action, which set a new career high. Of course, the 20-year-old big man also added eight rebounds and two steals on the defensive end of the floor.

As long as the playing time is available, it’s safe to say that Nnaji will capitalize and make his mark on both ends of the floor.

Ball movement and 3-point shooting fueled the offense

Denver’s offense has struggled with consistency throughout the season, but Saturday’s performance was a sight to behold for Nuggets Nation.

The ball was moving and shots were falling as the Nuggets dropped 113 points on 52.4 percent shooting from the field. Denver knocked down a season-high 20 3-pointers and shot 46.5 percent from downtown in the victory.

After dishing out 18 assists in the first half, the Nuggets continued to move the ball effectively and finished with 30 dimes on the night.

Jokić dominated in The Garden

It didn’t take long for Jokić to remind the fans at Madison Square Garden why he was the 2020-21 Most Valuable Player.

After dropping 17 points in the first half, the Serbian big man scored 15 points in the third quarter alone during Denver’s dominant stretch that put the game away. Jokić finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in his 27 minutes, all on 14-of-19 shooting from the field.

With Jokić back in the lineup following his absence due to injury, the Nuggets will hope that the offense can find a rhythm with the MVP leading the charge.

Denver is back in action Monday against the Chicago Bulls (6 p.m. MT).