Good, bad & ugly: Nuggets bounce back with statement win over Clippers

Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris (14) drives to the net against Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) and forward Maurice Harkless (8) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center.
Jan 12, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris (14) drives to the net against Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) and forward Maurice Harkless (8) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets went into Sunday night’s game on the second night of a back-to-back after one of Denver’s most embarrassing losses of the season.

The Nuggets slept walked for an entire three quarters until finally turning it in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too late as the Cleveland Cavaliers picked up only their 12th win of the season.

With the loss, the Nuggets also moved down to fifth place in the Western Conference standings and things were not going to get any easier as they welcomed in the Los Angeles Clippers to the Pepsi Center on Sunday.

Denver put together one of their most complete games of the season as they beat the Clippers 114-104. In a game that saw seven Nuggets players score in double figures, I give you the good, bad and ugly.

Good – Michael Porter Jr. shows off his talent 

Every single time that Michael Porter Jr. has a good game; especially in what is still regarded as his rookie season, he is going to be featured.

Porter got in for a brief moment against the Cavaliers on Saturday evening before being benched for the remainder of the game because he missed a couple of assignments on the defensive end and did not have good spacing offensively, but he responded in a big way against the Clippers.

Porter showed off exactly what makes him special as he got himself going in the second quarter which led to a solid game.

He provided a spark off of the bench as the Nuggets went on their biggest run of the game which began with Porter scoring seven-straight points for the Nuggets.

Porter had nine of his 13 points in the second quarter to ignite the offense and the interesting part about his run is it was on the exact same set. He opened up with the exact same play twice in which he forced the double team, got a smaller defender on him and shot over them. Then he immediately hit a lay-up in transition to cap off the run.

Porter Jr. is still raw and has so many things to work on — as any young player in the league would — but when he gets going, there are not many players on the Nuggets roster that can score in spurts like he can.

On Sunday, Porter gave Nuggets fans another small glimpse into the future.

Great — Gary Harris gets out of slump

In Saturday’s game against the Cavaliers, the ugly was the shooting slump that Gary Harris has been in as he has struggled mightily in the month of January to get anything going offensively.

He went into the game against the Clippers still in that shooting slump. Over his last 18 attempted 3-pointers, Harris has only hit one of them. He has not been scoring the basketball well and has been searching for a rhythm all year.

Harris made it a point to come out aggressive to begin the game and had his highest-scoring game of the month.

Harris was able to knock down his first 3-pointer of the game and rode that momentum as he put up a team-high 15 points in the first half. He knocked down two 3-pointers in the half, attacked the basket and also got to the free-throw line a few times as well.

Harris did not score in the second half after only taking two shots and that is a bit concerning because what he did early on was a big reason that the Nuggets were able to build such a big lead and that spurt helped the Nuggets win the game.

Awesome – A focused Nuggets team is a different Nuggets

Saturday and Sunday were both tales of two different teams.

On Saturday, the Nuggets were unmotivated and came out flat which led to their loss against a sub .500 team, but on Sunday against a title contender, they were focused and put together one of their most complete games.

Denver had seven players score in double figures as they were led by Nikola Jokic who had 20 points and 15 rebounds in the game as he took advantage of the mismatch down low.

While the Nuggets starters played well, the second unit was the difference maker.

Porter led the bench in scoring with 13 points and Monte Morris put together a great game as well. He finished with 12 points and six assists and finished a game-high +15 in plus/minus.

Denver’s bench unit had a 43-33 advantage against the Clippers, opened up the game by building a lead and also helped sustain a late-game push.

Another positive from Sunday’s game was the fact that the Nuggets not only get out to a big lead, but were able to keep it and close a good team out. The Nuggets have been building these early leads, but allowing teams back in the game and this was a game that, despite the Clippers fighting back to make it a game, the Nuggets were able to secure another victory.

Sunday’s game was the second night of a back to back after being embarrassed a night before and the Nuggets were able to flip a switch time and time again and pull through. It was a very big win for Denver.

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