The Denver Nuggets lost to the San Antonio Spurs 128-120 on the road. The 17-49 San Antonio Spurs.

Michael Porter Jr. dunked on Zach Collins, and when the two got into an altercation afterwards, the pair were ejected. At that point, the Nuggets were down, but between ongoing bench struggles and hot shooting from the Spurs, the Nuggets could never close the gap.

It’s a flat out embarrassing loss. Nikola Jokić put up a triple-double with a lot of points, but it doesn’t matter if the Spurs are going to score every time. The Nuggets had an opportunity to close the gap late, but their lack of ability to get stops was a big issue.

Here are my takeaways from the Nuggets matchup with the Spurs on Friday night:

Nikola Jokić took it seriously on one end of the floor

The talent difference between the 1 seed and the 15 seed in the West was just one aspect of Denver’s win tonight. The most important thing for Denver was their effort and execution level. There were certainly times when the Nuggets made mistakes, and Denver let things slide at the end of the first half. The intent was there most of the night, and the Nuggets dominated in the moments that mattered.

Consistent defense and aggressiveness has been an issue, and that starts with Jokić. He set the tone in the first quarter though with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go with a standard four assists. His mentality focused on taking the open shots available to him, and he pushed the envelope on his own physicality. His matchup against Zach Collins and Charles Bassey gave him opportunities to score, and he took advantage of it.

Overall, Jokić finished with 37 points on 14-of-24 shooting, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. It looked like he was playing mad, and for good reason. Unfortunately, the defense continues to be an issue. He couldn’t guard the perimeter or the rim tonight. At least, he didn’t choose to. That put the Nuggets at a disadvantage all night, and the Spurs hung 128 on them.

The buck stops with Jokić. He has to be better and set a better example on defense. He closed out short all night, and that’s not how the Nuggets need him to play.

Jamal Murray sets the franchise record for three-pointers made

It took a bit longer than expected, but Jamal Murray finally crossed the threshold for three-pointers made in Nuggets franchise history.

Murray hit the shot early in the first quarter, his first attempt, and looked to give a small sigh of relief. After having a poor shooting night against the Bulls on Wednesday, Murray turned things around in a good matchup against the Spurs, imposing his will in impressive fashion.

Murray pushed for more opportunities the rest of the game, but his shots

The bench continues to be terrible

One of the most important factors for the remainder of the regular season is seeing the bench get back on track. Over the past seven games, non-Nikola Jokić lineups were minus-26 in the plus-minus department, having occasional positive performances but mostly being negative, regardless of the opponent. With Murray staggering with the bench, those issues should be mitigated to a degree, but they haven’t been successful groups for awhile.

Tonight, the bench struggled against one of the worst teams in the NBA. With Jokić off the floor, the Nuggets maintained a minus-6 plus-minus. The combination of Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown, Jeff Green, and Thomas Bryant scored with solid efficiency, but they couldn’t get enough stops to be successful.

Jackson continues to make odd decisions as a shooter, especially with the shot clock winding down. He’s the guy to at least be concerned about in how he fits into the general flow of the rotation. The shots that he’s generating mostly aren’t good, and the numbers for Denver’s bench offense have reflected that.

Still, there’s plenty of time for the rest of the regular season. It’s just not looking great right now.

Final Rotations