Denver Nuggets 129, New York Knicks 92: Three Takeways

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

There it is!

The Denver Nuggets have spent nearly a quarter of the season trying to find their offense and it finally got rolling with a dominant 129-92 performance against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. 

Will Barton III continued his fine early-season form by leading Denver with 17 points on impressive 66.7 percent shooting. He was one of eight Nuggets in double-digit scoring on the night. The Knicks were paced by Mitchell Robinson, who had 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench. 

The Nuggets got rolling midway through the first quarter. After trailing for the opening 11 minutes, Denver would take its first lead at 29-27 thanks to a three-pointer from Juancho Hernangómez. The team wouldn’t look back after that moment. 

In the second quarter, the Nuggets would hit five threes and go on a 17-0 run. They held the Knicks scoreless for just over five minutes midway in that quarter. Denver would head to halftime with a 22-point advantage, holding the home team to just 39 percent from the floor. 

In the second half, it was more of the same as the Nuggets would increases their lead to 30 early in the fourth quarter. Denver would finish the night shooting a sizzling 56.3 percent from the field – including an almost unbelievable 55.3 percent from downtown. They hit a season-high 21 threes. It was a much-needed confidence boost for the group, who had struggled to score in their two-game losing streak prior to Thursday’s contest. In losses to the Kings and Lakers, the Nuggets averaged 96.5 points (27th in the NBA during that stretch), 41 percent from FG (27th), 27.9 percent from three (28th). 

"Very important [win]," Barton III told Altitude's Katy Winge after the game. "It's tough losing two games [in a row]...To get a win and get back on track and get some of the negativity out of your mind is big."

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was encouraged by the significant turnaround shown against the Knicks. 

"Everybody contributed, everyone stepped up so it was a good way to start our road trip," he said to reporters after the game. 

READ MORE: How NYC developed Michael Malone 

The Nuggets now improve their road record to 6-2 and travel to Boston to face the Celtics in a Friday night showdown at the TD Garden. 

Here are the takeaways: 

Bench dominance 

This was an assertive showing from the Nuggets’ second unit as it had five double-digit scorers against a struggling New York team. Jerami Grant led the group with 16 points and his ability to score both inside and from beyond the arc proved difficult for the Knicks to defend. Malik Beasley (14 points), Monte Morris (15 points), Mason Plumlee (11 points) and Hernangómez (12 points) also stood out in New York. 

The bench unit also sparked the Nuggets first significant run of the game between the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter where the team went on a 20-8 run. The group would finish the game with 74 points.  

"The key to tonight's game was we went to our bench at the end of the first quarter and into the second quarter, I thought that group was great, It allowed us to have that really quality second quarter," Malone said. 

He added, "Nikola impacts the game on so many levels and that's why he's a superstar." 

Dimes for everyone 

The Nuggets scored 129 points and their willingness to share the rock was the catalyst. The team had a season-high 38 assists to just 13 turnovers. Denver had six players with at least three assists on the night. 

In typical Nikola Jokić fashion, the Serbian initiated the unselfishness as he had six dimes in the first half. He would finish with a game-high eight assists in just 25 minutes of action. 

"He just makes the right play. What I love about Nikola is he's totally selfless," Malone said. "He exemplifies what we talk about with our culture." 

Jamal Lights Up The Mecca

Jamal Murray didn’t lead the Nuggets in scoring, but he certainly put on a show at the Garden. 

The 22-year-old guard finished the game with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and his final two points might have been his most impressive. Up against a great defender in Frank Ntilikina, Murray blew past him with a stunning spin move to easily lay it up. 

Murray was particularly effective in the first half, where he had 11 of his total. 

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