The Nuggets, carried by the Jokic-Murray duo, sink the Pelicans
With Brandon Ingram on good feet, New Orleans kept pace with Denver early in the game and even took the lead on a long 3-pointer from CJ McCollum (15-12). After a very pleasant first quarter, the Pelicans took the lead (35-31) with a buzzer-beating shot by Trey Murphy.
In the game, Pelicans even lead by twelve points at the beginning of the second quarter (47-35). The Nuggets are in trouble, and as evidence of that, they scored just 39 points five minutes into the break. But Denver doesn’t lead the Western Conference for nothing. Nikola Jokic’s teammates are especially on fire from behind the arc. The two-time MVP even offers an exceptional “move” that ends with a flaw at the end of the quarter. The kind of gesture that will return this Wednesday. New Orleans leads by just three points at halftime (60-57).
Denver started the third quarter in the best possible way with an 11-2 run to regain the lead (68-62). The Nuggets, who are behind Jamal Murray by 13 points in this third step, even have a 10-point difference (92-82). Mike Malone’s men lead 93-84 early in the 4th quarter.
With a tighter defense, the Pelicans went on an 8-0 run to get back within five points (103-98). What worries them is that Nikola Jokic is playing fair and his trade with Jamal Murray is enough to give the Nuggets a 9-point lead with two minutes left. All that remains is for Jokic to finish at the free throw line and give the Nuggets the victory (122-113).
WHAT TO REMEMBER
– The dominant Jokic-Murray duo. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were both key contributors to the Nuggets’ win over the Pelicans. First, he was content to bring in friends and then take matters into his own hands when needed to finish with an XXL triple-double (26 points, 18 rebounds, 15 assists). 10 out of 14 in shots. The latter was on the hot foot all evening with 32 points on 7/12 from 3-point range. Their complement on the floor is no longer there, and when they develop at this level, Denver is hard to take.
– 9 straight losses for the Pelicans. Despite a good first half, New Orleans was unable to withstand Denver’s power when they returned from the locker room. In conclusion, this is the 9th defeat in a row. A dark streak that began on the floor of the Cavaliers on Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Day. One can only hope that Zion Williamson’s return is made as soon as possible…
16. The sixteenth triple-double this season for Nikola Jokic, and the 16th victory for the Nuggets! The Serbian is only the 4th player in history to record 8 triple-doubles in the same month, and since that night, he’s averaged a triple-double all season: 25.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.0 assists!
✅ Aaron Gordon. A very solid game with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists from him. Will that be enough to convince the coaches to send him to the All-Star Game?
✅ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He reaffirms that he’s a solid offseason option for the Nuggets with 15 points on 3/7 from 3-point range. His defensive impact doesn’t show up in the numbers, but it’s the connection Denver has been missing.
⛔️ Brandon Ingram. He is yet to regain his form after returning from injury. He exits this match with an ugly 5/17.
Nuggets (35-16): Reception of warriors from Thursday to Friday night (3H).
Pelicans (26-26): Thursday-Friday night trip to Mavericks (2:30 p.m.).