The Denver Nuggets lost a hard fought game versus the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden 116-110.

Jamal Murray led the way scoring wise for both teams with 25 points, shooting efficiently and finding a rhythm he hadn’t had for a while. Nikola Jokić was right behind him with 24 points, but six turnovers and several offensive rebounds allowed gave the Knicks a solid margin for error on the other end.

Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, and Julius Randle each had 20+ points for the Knicks. The Nuggets didn’t have another volume scorer on their side, with Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon combining for 25 points themselves. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also shot 0-of-5 from three-point range, including some clutch misses late in the game.

Here are my takeaways from the Nuggets matinee matchup with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden:

A good matchup between two good teams

The biggest takeaway from this game is that the Nuggets looked like the Nuggets again, at least for most of the game. There were certainly times when they gave up runs and didn’t play well, but it felt like a good team going up against another good team. The Knicks are good, and they played really well, executing down the stretch and making clutch shots that the Nuggets didn’t. That’s fine. Sometimes, games like this happen.

Nikola Jokić played what was probably a C-minus game. He had 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists on 11-of-18 from the field. He had six turnovers, an uncharacteristically high number, and only got to the free throw line one time. The Knicks as a whole went to the free throw line 28 times, making 25 of them. The Nuggets were 12-of-15 from the line themselves. That’s a level of variance that doesn’t usually carry over.

The loss was exacerbated by the fact that the Nuggets messed around last week and lost games they shouldn’t have lost. This performance by the team was reasonable though, and there were plenty of positives on the day despite the end result.

A bounce back performance for Jamal Murray

Murray was one of the main culprits in Denver’s four-game losing streak last week. He had a solid showing against the Detroit Pistons in what could be described as a “get right” game for the team. It was important to build upon that though and not let it be a fleeting performance.

Mission accomplished against the Knicks on Saturday.

25 points today on 9-of-14 from the field and 5-of-7 from three underscored the effectiveness with which he ran the offense. Murray moves well, attacked the gaps in the defense, and had a quick trigger on open threes. He shot it well today, had six assists compared to two turnovers, and played with better pace, looking healthier than he has in the last couple of games.

The defense needs to be better. Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson both sought him out on switches for isolations late in the game, and he didn’t do enough on that end to slow them down. Still, it was a positive day for Murray who needed a bounce back.

Defensive Rebounding was a big weakness

Sometimes, an opponent just has a mismatch in an area that you don’t expect. For the Knicks, it was their ability to grab offensive rebounds and turn them into extra possessions. The Nuggets were lackadaisical on the defensive glass, allowing several Knicks to crash and outwork them for second chance points. It was an unfortunate way to lose a game the Nuggets played well in, but it was certainly the difference maker.

Jokić and Porter were the biggest culprits with the starters. Mitchell Robinson outworked Jokić on the glass and grabbed seven offensive rebounds by himself in 26 minutes. Josh Hart also did his normal thing and grabbed three offensive rebounds.

Jeff Green and Thomas Bryant combined for just one rebound in 28 minutes today, and it wasn’t even a defensive rebound. If those guys are going to be the bench power forward and center for the playoffs, they have to be better at clearing defensive rebounds. The margins are already so thin for the bench. They can’t keep making things more difficult on themselves.

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