The Denver Nuggets faced the Memphis Grizzlies on the front end of a back-to-back on Thursday night and absolutely eviscerated them.

The Nuggets won 142-105 tonight against the Grizzlies in a game that didn’t feature Ja Morant. Denver had 43 assists as a team compared to just 12 turnovers. They made 20 three-pointers and held the Grizzlies to 42.5% from the field without their superstar. It was always going to be difficult for Memphis, but this game was never in doubt after a slow first quarter start.

Nikola Jokic did something that very few NBA players have ever done before, recording a triple-double on perfect shooting from the field. Jokic finished the night with 26 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists, shooting 11-of-11 from the field, 1-of-1 from three, and 3-of-3 from the free throw line. Jokic was absolutely masterful tonight.

Jamal Murray had himself an incredibly effective and efficient night as well, scoring 23 points on 9-of-12 from the field and 4-of-6 from three, adding nine assists and two steals compared to just one turnover in 26 minutes. Murray’s mastery of the pick and roll with Jokic, as well as his ability to read the floor while off the ball, has been absolutely sensational of late. Tonight was a manifestation of that success for both Jokic and Murray, and the Nuggets benefitted as a team.

“You know what I love about both of those guys too?” Michael Malone shared of Jokic and Murray postgame. “I don’t know how many MVPs you can say this about: Nikola doesn’t care ‘How many shots am I getting?’ He was 11-for-11 tonight. He doesn’t care about that. If Jamal has it going, he’s clapping for Jamal. He takes more joy in his teammates’ success. That is the true definition of selflessness.”

Jokic spoke glowingly about the way he and Jamal Murray approached the game tonight:

“I think we have chemistry all of the time. Sometimes, we don’t make shots or sometimes we just don’t make the right play, but I think the chemistry is always there, and we WANT to make the right play.”

 Without Aaron Gordon in the starting lineup, who suffered a dog bite injury on Christmas following last Monday’s game, the Nuggets started Peyton Watson to guard Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane. Watson appeared a bit overwhelmed initially on both ends tonight, but he recovered in a tremendous way.

Malone shared plenty of thoughts on Watson postgame and the way he continues to improve and step up when needed.

“Peyton’s been in the rotation. He’s been closing games for us at times. I think he knows that we have confidence and belief in him,” shared Michael Malone. “And let’s be honest, Peyton Watson is a huge part of our future, so for him to go out there and play against an All-Star in Jaren Jackson Jr.” was a big, big test that Watson ultimately passed.

The Grizzlies decided early on that they weren’t going to guard Watson on the perimeter, using Jackson as a rover against Jokic and the rest of the Nuggets players driving to the rim. Watson struggled to handle that initially but ultimately settled in. He attempted a career high 10 three-pointers tonight, making 4-of-10 from three. He scored 20 points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished a couple assists in the process.

“For him to handle how they were guarding him…we just told him, if you’re open, shoot the ball…I thought he kind of had a good mix in that second half of ‘oh you’re not going to guard me? I’ve worked on my shot. I can make this.’ And he did, as well as moving without it and putting pressure on the rim.”

 “Last year at the end of the season, he showed the potential. This year, obviously, we’ve made a full commitment to playing him and Julian [Strawther],” Malone continued. “I think Peyton’s learning curve and growth are just at a rapid rate right now.”

This was the first time the Grizzlies have been back in Denver since last season’s matchup on March 3rd. The Nuggets won that game, while the Grizzlies lost in several ways. Big man Brandon Clarke ruptured his achilles that night and hasn’t played since, while the famous Shotgun Willies incident happened with Ja Morant after the game. Needless to say, it was a night that broke the Grizzlies in more ways than one.

Tonight, Morant sat out due to illness, leaving the Grizzlies to play an overtaxed and overwhelmed roster against the Nuggets. The Grizzlies simply didn’t have enough to match up with Denver at home tonight, and the game was basically over by halftime.

The Nuggets have now won six in a row and nine of their last 10 games. They have an opportunity to win another one tomorrow night, earning some revenge against the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC is the only team to defeat the Nuggets in the last 10 games, and they’re also playing at an incredible level. Denver will need to be locked in to slow them down.

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