The Denver Nuggets defeated the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, winning 126-97 in a blowout victory.

The Suns didn’t have the vast majority of their rotation, out injured and following the second night of a back-to-back. There’s an excuse to be made there, but the Nuggets still didn’t allow an opportunity for the Suns to stay attached in this one. Denver won every quarter, and any time the Suns made a run, the Nuggets had a response and then some.

Nikola Jokić led the way with 21 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists in his 28 minutes, one assist away from a triple-double. It was a relatively easy matchup for Jokić, going up against the trio of Bismack Biyombo, Jock Landale, and Dario Sarič. Still, Jokić made quick work of it without trying to dominate as a scorer. He took a requisite number of shots and let that be that.

Jamal Murray had 16 points and 6 assists heading into the fourth quarter, but on the first play of the quarter, Murray planted his toe without getting his heal on the ground and rolled his ankle a bit. The Nuggets took an immediate timeout and Murray exited the game soon after. Fortunately, Michael Malone let Nuggets fans know that Jamal is fine postgame.

“Just his ankle, he says he’s fine,” Malone shared with media postgame. “He should be good to go next game.”

Murray played 25 minutes tonight, and many of them came with Bones Hyland, who dropped 21 points and five three-pointers of his own. Those two have started to find a rhythm playing together offensively. Swinging the ball from side to side and waiting for lanes to open up within the defense.

“When I feel like it was just me out there, the pinpoint was on me,” shared Bones postgame. “I feel like Jamal’s out there with me now, and there’s many more open lanes. When he’s driving and they’re sinking, he can kick it to me which is an easy three. I feel like the floor’s much more open for both of us and for our teammates when we’re both getting downhill and creating as well.”

With those two on the court, the Nuggets never lost touch of how they needed to handle things. Every Nugget in the rotation was a significant positive tonight, and many Nuggets got to work on aspects of their game on both ends that will continue to pay dividends down the line.

Here are my primary takeaways from the Nuggets matchup against the injured Suns on Wednesday night:

The Nuggets continue their offensive onslaught

As the Nuggets continue to progress through the season, their offense seems to only get better and more precise. There are blips along the way, but for the most part, the Nuggets are methodically destroying defenses this season.

Tonight was no different. The Nuggets dropped 126 points with relative ease, shooting 56.5% from the field, 44.1% from three-point range, and turning it over just 10 times. They scored 60 points in the paint, 24 fast break points, and simply played faster and more efficient basketball from the Suns. Jokić captained that with the starting unit, scoring 21 points, grabbing 18 rebounds, and dishing 9 assists. Bones of course left his imprint on the game, but it was everybody out there tonight.

There were several role players staying efficient all night that led the charge for Denver. Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Zeke Nnaji combined to score 42 points on just 20 shot attempts. Most of those shots were either at the rim or behind the arc, maximizing the efficiency from Denver’s role players. That efficiency allows the starters a little bit of wiggle room, not that Denver’s group needed much.

Sure, it wasn’t the strongest defense they’ve ever faced, but the Nuggets once again took care of business by playing the right way. They’ve done that a lot this season.

Bones Hyland goes off

The first half was as much about Bones Hyland putting the game away as it was anything else. The second year guard was locked in as a scorer, putting up 21 points on 7-of-12 from the field and 5-of-7 from three-point range. He found his rhythm early and never wavered once, demoralizing the Suns early and never letting them back in the game.

“Really was feeling it, man,” Bones shared postgame. “It felt like shooting a rock in the ocean.”

Bones also had four assists compared to one turnover, and he made some quality defensive plays along the way, grabbing a steal on a cross-court pass and staying attached to his assignments. It wasn’t just the scoring that was impactful tonight. Bones was a complete player, which is one of the primary aspects of his game that will take him from good to great.

In his last eight games, Bones is averaging 16.6 points per game, shooting 52.2% from the field, 51.9% from three, and 85.7% from the free throw line. His scoring has come back around after going through a slump in December, and it’s been paired with 3.6 assists per game as well. He’s figuring some things out, and even though the defensive end is a process, it’s all part of the journey.

The Nuggets are truly halfway there

Tonight marked 41 games on the season for the Denver Nuggets, and it’s safe to say that the first half of the season was a genuine success. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. have worked themselves backed into being difference makers, the newest additions are fully integrated, and Nikola Jokić may be better than ever before.

“As I kept on telling our players in the huddle, it’s not about them.” Malone emphasized. “Let’s do what we do. Regardless of who’s playing for the other team. Regardless of who the other team is. We have a job to do.”

Home games have been a staple for Denver so far, going 18-3 at home and winning their last 11 in a row. That includes strong performances against the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns on Christmas, Boston Celtics on New Year’s, Los Angeles Clippers, and Cleveland Cavaliers on a back-to-back.

“There’s no doubt that I think our players are starting to have a great confidence playing at home,” Malone shared.

The Nuggets now have the third best offensive rating and sixth best defensive rating in home games. They’ve felt that comfort level rise as the season has worn on, and teams are now sitting their stars with more frequency on trips to Denver knowing what awaits them. It’s a great place to be.

Now, the challenge for the second half: fix the defensive rating in road games. Their first opportunity comes on Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Final Rotations