Denver Nuggets 124, Minnesota Timberwolves 109: Three takeaways
Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray refused to allow the Nuggets to lose their third in a row, with both stars dominating halves to help the team secure a 124-109 win against the Timberwolves in Minneapolis.
Murray led Denver (2-4) to its first road win of the season, tallying an impressive 36-points on 13 of 20 shooting to go along with five boards and four assists. Jokić took over in the second half and finished with his 45th career triple-double, putting up 19 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds.
While the game was probably much closer than Michael Malone would have liked through the opening three quarters, the Nuggets bench also stepped up to help seal a much-needed result. Denver’s reserves outscored Minnesota’s 47-35.
"We weren't great tonight, but we got a win and we needed a win tonight," Malone said.
The Nuggets travel back to the Mile High City to host the second of a home-and-home back-to-back against Minnesota (2-4) Tuesday night (7 p.m. MT, ALTITUDE).
Here are the takeaways:
Joker delivers in the clutch
Foul trouble kept Jokić in check in the first half. He ensured it wouldn't carry over into the final 24 minutes.
The Nuggets entered the fourth quarter trailing by one and then the Joker took over, sparking his team to a 15-0 run that would break the game wide open. The Serbian center dropped seven points, six assists and six rebounds in the final 12 minutes of the contest. Following that run, the Nuggets would take a 100-86 lead. The team wouldn’t look back.
"I got Nikola out there at the three-minute mark in the third, knowing that he was going to start [in the fourth quarter] and lead us to the victory, which he did," Malone said.
Jokić’s impact was evident in the plus/minus stat, where the center was a game-high 27.
Murray’s dominant first half
With Jokić dealing foul trouble in the first half along with struggles on the perimeter from Gary Harris and Will Barton III, Jamal Murray picked up the slack and was almost unguardable.
Murray would tie a career-best for first half scoring, pouring in 26 points on 9 of 14 shooting. He was also sharp from downtown, hitting 3 of 7 on threes, and was perfect from the line, going 5-of-5. Murray’s offensive explosion was critical in securing an 55-48 lead heading into the break.
The Nuggets’ lead guard would add another 10 points and three assists in the second half on 4 of 6 shooting.
Facu provides spark
The Facu Show is finally here!
After averaging just 1.6 points and 1.0 assists in 6.6 minutes of action, Facundo Campazzo got going in Minneapolis and finished Sunday night with a NBA career-high 15 points, three-steals and two assists.
"It is an amazing feeling right now, I just tried to put 100 percent on each side of the court," Campazzo said. "I've worked so hard to be here so I want to take [advantage of] any opportunity."
Campazzo didn’t play in the first quarter, but seemingly gained some confidence after hitting a three in the second quarter. The reserve guard would pick it up in the second half, hitting four more threes on six attempts. He was also a factor defensively, playing bigger than his 5-foot-11 frame and getting physical when he needed to be.
"You knew he was going to break out," Malone said. "He's played in the Olympics, World Championships and the biggest games over in the Euro League. It was great to see that."
After struggling to find his shot without the ball in his hands, Campazzo showed he could make an impact off the ball in his long-range shooting. He was a significant part of the Nuggets’ bench exploding for 47 points.
"I know what he can do, so I'm not surprised," Jokić said. "We found him and he shot with confidence."
"It was good to see him finally getting into rhythm...For him to get into rhythm means a lot," Murray said before later adding. "The whole bench was up when he was hitting threes and every play he made was a huge play. He just plays so hard, you appreciate guys who bring it every night...To see him break the ice for himself and play free meant a lot, we need that moving forward. It's good to see him [reach] his potential and show what we know he can do."
JaMychal Green was another factor off the bench, adding 14 points and five boards.