Denver Nuggets 113, New York Knicks 97: Three takeaways

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Nuggets stormed back to winning ways with a dominant 113-97 victory over the New York Knicks at Ball Arena. 

This was a matchup that was decided seemingly at tip-off as the home team raced to an early 26-6 lead. From that point on, it was relatively smooth sailing for Michael Malone’s team. 

Nikola Jokić had a career-high tally in a quarter, dropping 24 points in the opening 12 minutes. The all-world center would finish the night with 32 points, 12 boards, and six assists, two steals, and two blocks in just 29 minutes. The Knicks were led by Julius Randle, who had 14 points, eight rebounds, and five assists on 5 of 14 shooting. 

This was a much-needed win by Denver, which starts a grueling stretch among some of the NBA’s elite. The team will now head to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz (ALTITUDE, 7 p.m. MT). It will then take on the East’s second-best team just over 24 hours later in the Nets Saturday (8 p.m. MT, ALTITUDE 2). 

Here are the takeaways: 

Unforgettable First Quarter 

Twelve points on four made field goals in 12 minutes. The numbers are almost unbelievable, but that’s how good the Nuggets’ defense was in the opening quarter against the Knicks. 

Denver put on a defensive clinic in the first quarter, holding New York’s All-Star and dark-horse MVP candidate Randle to just one point in that span. The Knicks could only muster two assists to three turnovers and shot 16.7 percent overall. 

As good as Denver was on defense, Jokić ensured the offense held its own in the quarter as well. The center put up 24 of the team’s 34 points, missing just one of his nine attempts. The Joker continues his recent uptick in free throw attempts. He shot 8 of 10 in the opening quarter and 15 overall. In his past five outings, he is averaging 7.4 attempts a game – which is a big jump from his career average of 3.9 per contest. The league’s MVP frontrunner continues to add new aspects of his game on offense to combat some of the recent double and triple teams he’s faced recently. He also had four dunks in the game. 

Austin Goes Off Against Former Team 

Austin Rivers was one of the Knicks heralded offseason signings before he was surprisingly sent to Oklahoma City in a trade. He was subsequently waived by the Thunder shortly after. He might say otherwise, but he had no shortage of factors to motivate him against the Knicks. 

The Knicks entered the contest with a 9-1 record in their last 10 games and the seventh-best defensive rating (109.6) in that span. None of those factors mattered to Rivers, who connected on 6 of 9 threes en route to a 25-point night against his former team. This was a significant bounce back for Rivers, who had struggled with his shot despite some positive contributions defensively. Rivers had shot 28 percent in his last five outings. 

Rivers continued to have an impact on the other end, swiping three steals Wednesday. 

Facu Shines Again  

Facundo Campazzo is 5-foot-9, but his stat line might suggest he’s a foot taller. The Argentine point guard grabbed a career-high nine boards to go along with 16 points, five steals, four steals, and two blocks. 

Campazzo is a seasoned international competitor, but he’s still gaining his footing in the NBA. Yet, what makes him a valuable addition to the Nuggets this season is his instincts. He consistently makes winning plays for Denver, whether it’s a hustle play or connecting on an important three-pointer. While Campazzo is still fighting to gain more efficiency on offense, his efforts on the glass helped the Nuggets dominate the glass 64-42. 

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