Denver Nuggets 113, Washington Wizards 107: Three Takeaways

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For a second consecutive game, the Denver Nuggets held a 30-point lead, but Monday’s matchup with the Washington Wizards didn’t end up being a resounding victory. Back at Ball Arena for the first time this month, Denver narrowly held on to for a 113-107 victory over the Washington, with a dominant performance from Nikola Jokić and impressive ball movement fueling the win.

Both teams struggled out of the gate offensively, with the Nuggets securing an early 13-8 lead midway through the first quarter as the two teams were both under 40 percent shooting from the field. Denver was able to maintain the lead throughout the opening frame, with frequent trips to the charity stripe helping on the offensive end as the team continued to benefit from missed shots from Washington. The Nuggets took a 29-22 lead into the second quarter, with 16 combined points from Aaron Gordon and Jokić leading the way.

Denver’s second unit extended the lead to begin the second quarter as Facundo Campazzo electrified the crowd with back-to-back highlight-worthy assists. As some of the Nuggets starters checked back in near the six-minute mark of the quarter, the Mile High squad had a 42-29 lead. The highlights kept coming for the Mile High Squad, which included a windmill dunk from Gordon as the Nuggets took a 59-41 lead into the halftime break.

Denver blew the game open with a 17-5 run in the opening four minutes of the second half, which pushed the lead to 30 at 76-46. As Washington continued to struggle offensively, the Nuggets seemingly couldn’t miss as they used the big run to gain complete momentum. A 19-8 run from the Wizards to close the quarter reduced Denver’s lead to 91-70 heading into the final frame.

Washington continued to slowly chip away at the lead and eventually cut it to 17 with just over eight minutes remaining, which prompted Nuggets head coach Michael Malone to insert several starters back into the game to close out the win. An ejection for Jokić with six minutes remaining gave the Wizards life, and Denver’s lead was quickly reduced to 10 with 3:25 remaining. The Nuggets withstood a late barrage from Washington’s offense to secure the home win.

Here are three takeaways from Monday’s win.

Facu magic fueled the second unit

Although the Nuggets got off to a solid start in Monday’s contest, the boost that Campazzo provided in the opening minutes of the second quarter was exactly what Denver needed to gain true control of the game.

Campazzo entered the game and immediately made his presence felt, dishing out five assists and racking up two steals in the first half. Of course, the assists weren’t of the ordinary variety, with a mix of no-look and behind-the-back dimes included in the mix.

In the end, the Argentinian point guard finished with eight points, five assists, and two steals in his 27 minutes of action, continuing his strong run of play as of late.

Jokić’s dominant run continued

One look at the box score would certainly give off the impression of dominance from the reigning MVP, but a close watch of the game showcased Jokić’s brilliance on both ends of the floor. Aggressive from the opening tip, the Serbian big man got to the charity stripe regularly and finished 9-of-11 from the line.

After dropping 14 points and 12 rebounds in the first half, Jokić turned it on in the third quarter with 14 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Jokić ultimately finished Monday’s win with 28 points, 19 rebounds, and nine assists in 31 minutes, with a late ejection cutting his night short.

Morris stepped up for Denver

Although all the highlights from Jokić, Gordon, and Campazzo captured the fans’ attention, Monte Morris quietly served as Denver’s second-leading scorer and a steady playmaker in Monday’s game.

Morris ended Monday’s game with 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists on an impressive 8-of-14 from the field. When Jokić exited the game late in the fourth, Morris stepped up to lead the Nuggets’ offense down the stretch.

The Nuggets are back in action Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves (7 p.m. MT).