The Denver Nuggets were gasping for breath at the end of the third quarter. After being outscored 38-22 in the quarter, the Oklahoma City Thunder were in position to win a game the Nuggets thought they had in the bag at the end of the first quarter. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was dominant, Aleksej Pokusevski was putting together a strong performance, and the Thunder were rolling.

Then, Jamal Murray got mad. He made a shot right at the end of the third quarter that ultimately didn’t count, but there was visible emotion on his face as he tried to fire up his team heading into the final frame.

And fire them up he did.

The Nuggets outscored the Thunder 29-15 in the fourth quarter, leading to a 122-110 victory. Aaron Gordon led the Nuggets with 27 points on 10-of-13 from the field. Nikola Jokić put up his 79th career triple double, passing Wilt Chamberlain for sixth all-time and the most of any center.

But the story was Murray, who continues to look more and more like himself. He’s still working on his efficiency, but he played 31 minutes, scoring 24 points on 8-of-19 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range. The jumper was absolutely working, but the highlight of the night was this reverse dunk.

The Nuggets won, but it wasn’t for lack of trying to give them game away at times. Jokić had 10 turnovers, and the team had 18 as a whole. The Thunder had just 11. They also had 72 points in the paint as the Nuggets couldn’t stop SGA from getting anywhere he wanted to go. The young star point guard finished with 37 efficient points, but it wasn’t enough.

Here are my three primary takeaways from the Nuggets win in Oklahoma City:

Jamal Murray heats up

Murray’s been up and down for awhile, but on a night when the Nuggets lacked a bit of energy and passion after the hot shooting petered out, it was Jamal Murray’s fire that woke the Nuggets up again. Murray scored 14 of his 24 points in the final quarter, and the Nuggets needed every single one. He called his own number for isolations and post-ups, showcasing a wide array of moves to create space and hit a multitude of jumpers.

There’s still a lot for him to work on in his drives to the rim, as he sometimes gets caught under the rim without a plan. That’s a detail to iron out though. What matters most is that the Nuggets have their fiery competitor back. Murray knows when to turn it on and has that gear that his teammates absolutely live for. They want to see him get it going so badly, and he helped the team get back the energy it lost at halftime.

Back-to-back 20-point and 30-minute nights for Murray. The star guard is definitely progressing in the right direction.

Nikola Jokić remains confusing

As the Nuggets continue to get back into the swing of things, Jokić has begun his season in potentially the weirdest way of his career. That continued in Oklahoma City. Here’s his stat line: 36 minutes, eight shot attempts, 15 points, 14 assists, 13 rebounds, and 10 turnovers.

He still impacted the game positively because of how well he reads the floor and sets up his teammates, but there’s something missing. There isn’t a lot of aggressiveness at this stage of the season. Even when the team is hemorrhaging points on one end, Jokić struggled to get himself going on the other end. He didn’t face a ton of double teams tonight and had opportunities to score, but often, he forced passes instead, racking up double digit turnovers for the third time in his career.

To his credit, Jokić turned up the intensity in the fourth quarter, directing traffic offensively, picking his spots to look for shots, and working hard defensively. Perhaps Jokić was simply saving himself for the fourth quarter, because he was pretty good in the final frame.

If the team scores 122 points, maybe it’s unfair to be that worried about Jokić’s individual scoring; however, there are moments throughout the game when Jokić turns very passive. Some of those moments, the team is fine. Other times, they could use an easy bucket or two from their best player to stop a run, and it just hasn’t happened so far.

The Nuggets are now 10% of the way through the season. Perhaps Jokić will turn up the scoring aggressiveness shortly.

Bench questions

Bruce Brown played 32 minutes off the bench tonight. He had 15 points, nine assists, and five rebounds, a sterling stat line while filling in as the bench point guard. He struggled with SGA, but everybody struggled with SGA.

What stands out tonight is just how few minutes the rest of the group played. Jeff Green had 19 minutes and was up and down, though he finished on a positive note guarding SGA successfully and finding some easy baskets on the other end. The other three guys: Davon Reed, Christian Braun, and Zeke Nnaji, combined to play just 20 minutes. Denver played just eight players in the second half.

Nnaji rolled his ankle during his first stint and didn’t return, though he played pretty well. The Nuggets found some success with a group that featured Murray, Brown, Michael Porter Jr., Green, and Nnaji in the second quarter. Perhaps something similar can be used as a staggered lineup going forward. DeAndre Jordan and Christian Braun should still factor into things though, so Michael Malone will have to get creative.

Final Rotations