On Wednesday night, the Denver Nuggets matchup with the Houston Rockets looked like a loss from miles away.

The Nuggets were without five of their 10 regular rotation players, were playing their third game in four nights, had just finished three-straight back-to-backs and suddenly found themselves in Houston taking on the desperate Rockets, who had lost five of their last six games; including four-straight lesses.

The Nuggets battled, but it quickly became clear they lacked the scoring punch and defensive energy to keep up with the Rockets and with that, here are the good, bad and ugly from the Nuggets 121-105 loss in Houston.

Good – Nikola Jokic plays with fire despite Denver’s struggles

Despite all of the injuries, issues, and reasons for the Nuggets to likely lose to the Rockets, Jokic came out and took it at Houston early and often.

He was getting to the rim, scoring when ever he wanted to and was scoring through whoever he wanted to. Jokic was also the only guy on the Nuggets roster able to consistently grab rebound after rebound when the Nuggets needed it. Oh, and as he always does, Jokic was dropping assists to any and every open teammate throughout the night.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, Jokic logged his eighth triple double of the season in 33 minutes with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists on 8-19 shooting. He played well on defense and continued playing at a high level as he has since the new year arrived.

Star players are supposed to set the tone for their team no matter the obstacle and that is exactly what Jokic did. Despite the odds, he led his guys to battle and gave it his all. That is all you can ask for.

Bad – Injuries continue to pile up

Three days ago, after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves, it became clear that the Nuggets injury issues were beginning pile up and take a toll, but no one was ready for the injury report prior to the Nuggets tipping off against the Rockets.

30 minutes before tip off, the full extent of the Nuggets injury report was released at it read more like a novel than a report.

Jamal Murray (left ankle sprain), Gary Harris (right adductor strain), Michael Porter Jr. (back tightness), Paul Millsap (left knee contusion/sprain), and Mason Plumlee (right cuboid injury) were all officially inactive in Houston against the Rockets.

Malone gave an update on all three of Harris, Millsap and Murray — via Mike Singer of the Denver Post — at shootaround the morning before battling with the Rockets.

“Gary (Harris) is definitely the closest (to returning),” Malone told reporters via Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “I don’t know how close that is. Paul (Millsap) and Jamal (Murray) are a ways off.”

When it comes to Plumlee, the team announced that his right cuboid injury was going to keep him out 2-4 weeks.

Porter’s addition to the injury report came as a surprise. There was no indication he was hurt leading up to the game, but he reportedly tweaked something in his back during warmups that led to the Nuggets listing him as doubtful which eventually led to him not playing.

Whenever the words ‘Porter’ and ‘back’ are mentioned in the same sentence, it leads to immediate panic considering Porter had two back surgeries before being old enough to have a beer. Thankfully, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic, this tweak in his back is not in the area of his previous surgery and that he has not had any lingering issues this year. Kosmider also noted that the Nuggets are “exercising an abundance of caution”.

That meant the Nuggets were playing without three starters and half of their 10-man rotation which, if you look it up in the dictionary, is defined as ‘bad’.

Ugly – Depleted and exhausted Nuggets play hard, but struggle

The Nuggets did not have the manpower or energy to hang with the Rockets.

Denver was playing their seventh game in 12 days and, more specifically, their third game in four nights. They were going into Houston without five of their top-seven players and only one center in Jokic. Oh, and Denver was taking on the Rockets, who have been one of the toughest teams for the Nuggets to match up with over the past few years.

The deck was beyond stacked against Denver and that played out on the court despite Denver’s best efforts.

It was clear how tired the Nuggets were by their shooting percentages, decision making, and hustle stats. The Nuggets turned the ball over 15 times which allowed the Rockets to get easy buckets. Denver also allowed 18 offensive rebounds leading to a bunch of second-chance points. Then on offense, the Nuggets shot 45.7% from the field and 35.7% from three-point range.

There was no issue with Denver’s effort or heart, but they just did not have enough in the tank to come away with a win in Houston.