DENVER, CO - JANUARY 25: Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets handles the ball against Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks on January 25, 2018 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
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Nuggets Put Pedal to the Metal in a 130-118 Win Over New York

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

The thing about facing the Knicks is, it isn’t always easy. There is a star to try and stop (Kristaps Porzingis), a fast-paced offense to keep up with, and other capable scorers to hold down (Enes Kanter, Michael Beasley), etc.

But the Nuggets made all of that look simple in a 130-118 win on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center, their 10th straight home win over the Knicks.

“Obviously we put up 130 points, but the stat I love was the 36 assists,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “It means the ball was flying, guys were playing for each other, we played with great pace. Offensively was a terrific night. We got whatever we wanted and we got contributions from a lot of people.”

Getting pace into the offense wasn’t an issue. It takes two to tango, in that respect, and the Knicks love an up-tempo game. So, even though the Nuggets had diminishing returns in their second and third-quarter scoring, it started out so high – 39 points in the first – that it ultimately didn’t matter. Points again came in bunches in the fourth.

The Nuggets trailed only once, at 6-5 in the first quarter. The game was briefly tied at 8-8 soon thereafter. But the Nuggets snatched the lead back and never relinquished it again. They led by as many as 18 points in the contest.

The points came from everywhere.

Seven Nuggets scored in double figures, led by Gary Harris’ 23 points. He made six of his first seven shots, had 18 points in the first half and never looked back. And he was a question mark to play coming into the game due a bruised right mid foot. He didn’t practice on Wednesday and there was no shootaround on Thursday morning as the Nuggets tried to rest their weary.

But Harris looked none the worse for the wear in a dominant performance.

“If I’m going to play, I’m going to play,” Harris said. “I felt good right before the, so I went out there, gave it a go and it felt pretty good.”

Harris said he knew early on that his shot was on.

“Once you hit your first few shots, you can kind of tell how your body is feeling, especially the way the flow of the game,” Harris said. “You just figure out where you’re going to get your shots and once you get them you’ve got to knock them down.”

Harris knocked a ton of them down. And wasn’t alone.

The Nuggets shot 60 percent from the field as a team. They made 14 3-pointers, outscoring the Knicks 42-24 from the arc. Harris had four of those. Four other players had two apiece. The 130 points was the third-highest total in any game for the Nuggets this season.

Trey Lyles scored 21 points, his highest single-game total since getting 21 against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 8.

“I’d been struggling the last couple of games, stopped being aggressive, so tonight I wanted to come out and be aggressive from the start,” Lyles said.

Nikola Jokić had a near triple double with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Jamal Murray also finished with 18 points. Wilson Chandler had 16 points off the bench, and Mason Plumlee proved to be a perfect complement to Jokić in the starting frontcourt with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists.

While he was pleased overall, Malone did, however, have a bone to pick defensively. The Knicks ended up with 118 points and a whopping 64 of them from bench players.

“This kind of felt like who we were last year a little bit,” Malone said. “We were playing with great pace, putting up big numbers offensively, the ball was flying around and there is nothing wrong with that. But, let’s not just try to outscore them and trade baskets. … The message was quite simple: We’ll take the win, great offense, way to be unselfish but we have to find ways to get defense in the game and not try to outscore teams.”

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter

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