The Denver Nuggets went into Monday’s game fresh off of one of their worst losses of the entire season.
The Nuggets fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers on the heels of a loss against the Golden State Warriors the week before, so their matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks was about getting back on the right track.
Milwaukee came in hobbled as they played without three of their best players, but they still made it a game late which meant the Nuggets had to fight until the final buzzer.
The Nuggets put together a solid fourth quarter to pull out the 109-95 win against the Bucks, and with that, I give you the good, great and awesome.
Good – Power forwards set the tone
It was an awkward game for the Bucks as Milwaukee elected to sit their starters which helped the Nuggets get off to a hot start.
Milwaukee was without both of their All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton while Eric Bledsoe also sat out.
With all of those players being inactive, Denver made sure to get out to a lead and while they did have an up and down second quarter, the Nuggets went through their forwards to lead the way.
Denver jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first quarter, allowed the Bucks to get back in the game, and then closed Milwaukee out in the second half behind the play of their power forwards.
Paul Millsap is who the Nuggets went through early on, and he set the tone for the Denver to start the game. He finished the first quarter with 13 points while Jerami Grant joined in on the action finishing with 15 points in the opening half as Millsap’s backup.
Both of those players shot the ball well, got on the boards, and their play was contagious as the rest of the team knocked shots down as well.
When both of those players are hitting shots and anchoring Denver’s defense, the Nuggets are a difficult team to beat, and on Monday, it was the forwards who led the way and set the tone.
Great – Nuggets early three-point shooting
Denver’s three-point shooting has been an area of concern for the last month so it was a promising sign when the Nuggets hit almost every single 3-pointer they took in the first half.
The Nuggets have passed the ball around and gotten excellent looks, but have not been able to get their shots to fall. On Monday, things went their way as Denver was scorching hot from deep to open up the game.
In the first quarter, Denver opened up to a 39-24 lead, and it was because they rotated the ball and found the open man. The Nuggets went 7-12 from beyond the arc in the opening frame, and their 3-pointers came from their two forwards.
Millsap finished with 13 points in the first quarter as he hit two 3-pointers, got out on the break, and hit a free throw. Jerami Grant added 11 points alongside him as he hit three 3-pointers and had some defensive plays that gave the Nuggets energy off of the bench.
In the second quarter, the Nuggets defense let up a bit, and the Bucks made a run, but the flaming hot shooting start continued, which helped Denver hold a 62-54 lead heading into the half.
When Denver can get solid production from deep from their big men while also attacking the basket, it adds an added layer to the Nuggets as far as spacing, and it makes them more difficult to contain.
Awesome – Nuggets win an ugly one
A win is a win.
The Nuggets were up by as many as 16 points in the game and looked as if they were going to run away from the injured Bucks team, but with 9:19 left in the game, the Bucks were within three points and looking as if momentum were on their side.
The Nuggets energy was jump-started after a Jamal Murray poster dunk that was called a charge, but from there, the Nuggets closed Milwaukee out.
Denver outscored Milwaukee 33-24 in the final quarter to pick up the win, and it was Murray who the Nuggets leaned on. Murray finished with nine points in the final frame as he hit tough step-back jumpers, a 3-pointer, and also got to the rim.
Denver’s starters finally found a flow and the defense also stepped up late in the game to secure the victory. They currently sit in third place in the West and needed their win over the Bucks after losing to the two worst teams in their respective conferences last week.
After losses to the Warriors and Cavaliers, it was good for the Nuggets to get back on the right track and close a team out; especially when taking a look at their upcoming schedule.
It was an ugly win, but one that Denver surely needed.