The Denver Nuggets crushed the Minnesota Timberwolves 146-112 on Tuesday night, setting an NBA season high for assists in a game with 44.

Michael Porter Jr. led the way with 30 points, getting hot in the first quarter with 19 points on near perfect shooting. The Timberwolves scored just 19 in the quarter to match Porter’s 19, but the Nuggets added another 30 on top of that in the first quarter alone, putting the game out of reach early.

Nikola Jokić had a first half triple double and finished the game with 20 points, 16 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Nuggets played through their big man almost exclusively, and he set up the starters to score in a major way. Aaron Gordon added 24 to that total along with 8 assists and 6 stocks.

Overall, it was an epic night for the Nuggets. They jumped out to a big lead and never allowed the game to get close after that. They’re 38-17 now and have been great (when healthy) for nearly the entire season.

Here are my takeaways from the Nuggets beatdown of the Timberwolves on Tuesday night:

The Nuggets were out for revenge in the first quarter

The T’Wolves are one of the only teams in the NBA that have had Denver’s number in their first few matchups, though all three of the previous games were part of a back-to-back. The Nuggets sat their starters on Sunday in the last matchup, and the T’Wolves took advantage with a blowout victory.

The Nuggets decided to return the favor in the first quarter alone.

A 32-2 run from the mid-first quarter until the end helped the Nuggets turn this game into a laugher extremely early. Getting stops and running proved to be Denver’s best formula, and Porter was the biggest catalyst. He had 19 first quarter points and helped the Nuggets out to a 49-19 lead at the end of just one period. From that point on, the Nuggets simply had to hold serve, and they did.

The Nuggets might have the best frontcourt in the NBA

Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray certainly get enough love for their performances from night to night, but on a night when Murray sat, it was clear to see just how potent the Nuggets frontline actually can be. Here are the numbers from Jokić, Gordon, and Porter tonight:

  • Jokić: 20 points, 16 assists, 12 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, +40
  • Porter: 30 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, +43
  • Gordon: 24 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks, +32

None of the three exceeded 30 minutes tonight. All three shot at least 70% from the field. It was an absolute clinic in how to overwhelm a T’Wolves team that also has elite length and size of their own. Denver’s trio was simply unbeatable.

There are very few trios in the NBA that can realistically challenge Denver’s frontline as the best in the league. A healthy Milwaukee Bucks squad could, as could the Boston Celtics if they go small. Outside of those two, there aren’t any trios that offer the level of impact and dominance of Jokić, Gordon, and Porter.

The eve of the trade deadline

This was a special performance by the Nuggets tonight. An epic beatdown in just one quarter of game time. Michael Malone postgame made sure to highlight not to take teams like these for granted because they don’t come around very often.

Only two players were DNPs tonight: DeAndre Jordan and Bones Hyland. Jordan as the vet was never going to be asked to go in. Bones hasn’t played in a few games now, and it puts into perspective that the roster will likely look different on Thursday.

The trade deadline is on Thursday, and it’s very likely that Bones Hyland gets moved. Having not played Bones in awhile, it’s tough to see things not be perfect when the team is playing so well. Unfortunately, the Nuggets appear ready to make some tough choices, and they may have to in order to find the final piece that helps them compete for a championship. They have enough already, but putting themselves in the best position possible will be the priority.

Let’s see what happens.


Final Rotations