On Thursday night, the Denver Nuggets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 124-101 to extend their winning streak to three games.

“We never like to lose in front of our fans. We always liketo protect home court,” shared Peyton Watson postgame. “I think everybody’s minds were locked into doing that.”

Nikola Jokic dominated the game with 26 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists, recording the 115th triple-double of his NBA career. Jokic also set the record for most seasons with 10+ triple doubles, passing Oscar Robertson in his eighth straight such season.

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone didn’t just credit Jokic’s offensive game though, as he was especially impressed with Jokic’s performance on the defensive end.

“What I was probably most pleased with was Nikola’s defense,” Malone shared. “We know they’re a heavy pick and roll team, and we’re asking Nikola to be at the level. A lot of bigs in the NBA play down the floor on pick and rolls…I want to be aggressive. I want to be at the level and be disruptive, and I think Nikola set the tone of that tonight, being at the level, high active hands, and I think everybody else followed suit.”

Jokic, after his ejection in Chicago vs the Bulls on Tuesday night, played extremely hard on both ends in this one, working for offensive and defensive position, contesting shots, and battling for rebounds. Jokic finished with just one steal, but his defensive activity was great.

It was also fairly clear that the referees received the message the Nuggets sent between last game and this game about Jokic’s lack of respect from officiating. The Serbian superstar attempted 12 free throws and finished with just two personal fouls in 30 minutes despite being directly involved with several plays. Zach Zarba was the crew chief tonight, and the crew clearly were watching out for Jokic.

The Nuggets as a team allowed just 101 points, tied for their second fewest points allowed in a game this season. Malone was especially happy with the three-point defense, as the Nets shot just 8-of-30 from three-point range on the evening, albeit on the second night of a back-to-back at the end of a road trip.

Justin Holiday and Jamal Murray were especially helpful in that regard, collecting four and three steals respectively while Murray added a blocked shot. Holiday started in place of the injured Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, missing his first game of the season due to concussion protocol after hard contact to the head on Tuesday night’s game vs the Chicago Bulls. Holiday didn’t shoot well in his place, but he played the hounding, relentless defense the Nuggets needed from him.

Off the bench, Peyton Watson led the way for the Nuggets with 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists, one steal, and two blocks, an impressive all-around performance from the 21-year-old forward.

“I think my aggression tonight was great,” shared Watson postgame. “I’m a good facilitator. Sometimes, I’ve just gotta pick my spots and just learn how defenses are playing.”

Watson played a nice brand of basketball tonight on both ends, attacking consistently in transition and finishing at the rim (5-of-5 inside the restricted area). The ability to finish lobs, cuts, and transition layups is such a big deal for Watson, and any time he hits a three-pointer, it’s icing on the cake. Watson went 2-of-5 from three-point range, staying aggressive behind the arc despite missing the first couple of attempts and eventually getting shots to fall.

In addition to Watson, Christian Braun had a nice performance. The second-year wing from Kansas had 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and two blocks of his own, aggressively driving to the rim himself. It wasn’t Braun’s most efficient shooting performance, but his persistence and physicality helped wear down the Nets on the second night of a back-to-back.

Oh, and Braun caught a body tonight. Shoutout to Armoni Brooks.

The Nuggets needed a bounce back performance tonight after sustaining their first home loss to the Houston Rockets, and the team delivered all around. Jokic brought the energy, and the entire starting lineup set the tone for defense and a “fly around” mentality. Watson and the bench continued some improved play, and the Nuggets appear to be figuring some things out.

Michael Malone expressed his happiness with where the Nuggets are at currently, but he’s not satisfied and hopes the Nuggets improve in two distinct areas: road wins, and three-point defense. The Nuggets took a step in the right direction in the latter portion tonight.

“I don’t want to win 19 games on the road again. I want to be a team that can go into any arena in this week and beat the best teams,” opined Malone.

The Nuggets, fortunately, don’t have as many road games coming up as home games, so that will be something they prove over time. It stands to reason that Denver will improve on the road as long as their rest schedule isn’t terrible, but it’s on the Nuggets to prove that.

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