The Denver Nuggets survived a late rally by the Brooklyn Nets to win 108-102, bouncing back from a difficult loss against the New York Knicks the day before.

Michael Porter Jr. led all scorers with 28 points, showing up in a big way during the last three quarters to ensure the Nuggets wouldn’t lose another game. Jamal Murray scored all 25 of his points in the first half to ensure the Nuggets would never be trailing. Nikola Jokić had 22 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists, ensuring at the end of the third quarter that the Nuggets 20-point lead over the Nets was too big to overcome.

Overall, it was a strong performance by Denver’s Big Three, each playing a part throughout the game to help right the wrong of Denver’s previously losing ways. The Nets weren’t as sharp as they were in Denver, and that cost them on their own home floor today.

The Nuggets improved to 48-24, maintaining a four-game lead over both the Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies for the top seed in the Western Conference. Denver has 10 games left in their schedule and one more game this road trip, a Wednesday matchup with the Washington Wizards.

Here are my takeaways from the Nuggets matchup with the Nets on a Sunday afternoon back-to-back:

Jamal Murray goes off

A solid performance against the New York Knicks on Saturday wasn’t enough to get the win. Jamal Murray approached the game against the Nets today knowing he had to be even better, and he absolutely was. 25 points by halftime alone set the tone for the Nuggets on their back-to-back. They knew they couldn’t lose again after having lost five of their last six games, and Murray was the catalyst early and often. He took the easy shots that came within the flow of the offense early, then progressed to harder shots in the post and off the dribble.

In the second half, he basically shut it down as a scorer. Michael Porter Jr. got it going, and Murray tempered back his aggressiveness. That prevented him from turning in a crooked scoring number, but he still got up to eight assists as well while making good reads.

This back-to-back in New York may have been just what the doctor ordered for Murray. He had the get-right game in Detroit, a solid performance against the Knicks, and now a strong performance against the Nets. He seems to be back on track heading into the final stretch of regular season games. The Nuggets need him to be at his best entering the playoffs.

Michael Porter Jr. got involved early and often

Michael Porter Jr. scored just 11 points on Saturday, taking 10 shots and mostly being a non-factor in the fourth quarter of the loss. The Nuggets knew he needed to be more involved on Sunday, and he made himself available all day with aggressiveness, off-ball movement, and bucket making.

Porter came alive in the second quarter for the Nuggets, stepping up next to Murray and finding a strong synergy off cuts and off-ball actions with Jokić. He muscled his way to the paint, splashed in three-pointers, and showed just how much more he has to give when he’s involved and in rhythm.

Oh, and he postered his MVP teammate to boot.

MPJ finished the game with 28 points on 18 shots but also added nine rebounds and three assists. He didn’t let his own scoring distract him from everything else the Nuggets needed from him, including defensive impact. It was a big deal, and it showed how MPJ may be playing the best basketball of his career at the moment.

Nikola Jokić cleaned things up late

Jokić was mostly the conductor of the offense for the first half and some way into the third quarter. He was more than content to set up Murray and Porter for their offense throughout the day. It wasn’t until the middle of the third quarter or so that Jokić turned up the intensity. Jokić posted up, ran the floor, grabbed rebounds, and hit an assortment of tough shots that only he can make with any sort of consistency. His efforts extended Denver’s lead to 20 points after three quarters, which was too much for the Nets to overcome despite a late rally.

For much of the game, Jokić appeared to be playing possum. He wasn’t posting up with aggression or intention to score…until he was. He did exactly what the Nuggets needed throughout the game to get a win. He wasn’t looking to set the tone or run the Nets off the floor or anything like that. He just did enough to win, even if it took some prompting.

Final Rotations