It had been 12 games since Jamal Murray last played for the Denver Nuggets, and his return to the court didn’t disappoint.

The Denver Nuggets rolled with a 134-124 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. Denver played great offense, accumulating 37 assists to just four turnovers on the evening. The defense never really showed up to the party, but the Rockets simply couldn’t keep up with the Nuggets offense while on the second night of a back-to-back at altitude, though Jalen Green certainly made it interesting.

Of course, it was certainly scary when Murray rolled his ankle just two minutes into the Nuggets domination of the Houston Rockets. Murray stayed in and made some impressive plays throughout the evening, including an insanely deep three at the end of the shot clock early on.

Murray ended up playing just 22 minutes, finishing the game with 16 points and 6 assists, and 6 rebounds on 4-of-14 shooting. It wasn’t his most efficient performance, but that will change as he gets back into the rhythm of playing again. He also struggled to generate separation in two-point range, which could also be impacted by the rolled ankle he sustained early on.

Murray was frustrated postgame having sustained the ankle injury, and his status for Friday’s game will be entirely based on how the ankle responds tonight and tomorrow.

On the positive note, Nikola Jokic thoroughly dominated tonight with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and an absurd 15 assists. Jokic had 17 points and 12 assists in the first half alone, setting the tone as a scorer and playmaker from the opening tip. The Nuggets scored about as easy as they ever have this season, making 19-of-43 three-pointers, shooting 50.5% from the field, and grabbing 13 offensive rebounds. Jokic was at the center of everything, operating on the short roll in Denver’s offense very consistently.

“In that pocket, he’s the best in the world at that shot. Probably the best ever to touch a basketball in that pocket pass with that floater,” Michael Porter Jr. shared.

Jokic diced up the defense and made the reads extremely easy for his teammates. It certainly helped to have Murray back to play his part of that two-man dance though, because teams can’t simply double Jokic in those moments.

“MVP,” Murray said of Nikola Jokic operating in the pocket. “They don’t want to give me a mid-range or a floater. When he’s playing 4-on-3, that’s tough.”

Jokic created several open looks for perimeter players in the process, including Porter, who had a very strong performance in his own right. Porter finished the game with 30 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, shooting an efficient 11-of-17 from the field and 7-of-12 from three-point range.

Part of Porter’s success with built in simply getting comfortable, open looks. Part of it may have been about playing power forward. The Nuggets spread the floor tonight around the pick and roll, and while not having Aaron Gordon probably hurt the Nuggets defense, playing a dangerous shooter in Porter at the four certainly helped offensively. Justin Holiday started in Gordon’s place, but he’s a wing. Porter was able to replicate Gordon’s cutting from the four spot while also taking advantage from the perimeter when the defense collapsed on Jokic.

Off the bench, Reggie Jackson had a strong scoring night once again, helping elevate Denver’s second units to a certain threshold. Murray’s minutes staggered at times with the bench, so Jackson played off ball on occasion. Most of the time though, Jackson took advantage of spaced generated in pick and roll situations and made the Rockets pay.

Denver’s on a three-game winning streak here. They took care of business tonight in a situation when there was no way they should lose, seeing as the Rockets were without starting point guard Fred VanVleet. They also beat the San Antonio Spurs back on Sunday, a team they should always win against at home.

What turned this game into the start of a true winning streak was the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. Because the Nuggets were able to take that one, they’ve turned what could have been a tough situation into a great one.

Now, the Nuggets play another back-to-back on Friday and Saturday night on the road against the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings. It will be interesting to see how the Nuggets handle those matchups, and it may depend on Jamal Murray’s (and Aaron Gordon’s) ongoing injury designation.

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