Jameer Nelson took the blame as the Nuggets fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves last Sunday when he dribbled the ball completely around the key and took a contested mid-range jump shot for the game winner that didn’t go in. But the veteran stayed cool and level-headed, stating “ it doesn’t bother me make or miss.”

He followed that game up when he finished with 17 points and had a magical fourth quarter in a win against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. But that wasn’t enough as the 39-year-old had himself yet another impressive game and maybe the play of the night to lead the Nuggets to a 127-120 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Nelson didn’t blow up the box score on Thursday. He had 13 points and nine assists in 42 minutes starting in place of the injured Emmanuel Mudiay. He’s averaging just 8.8 points over 25.4 minutes per game this season, but his contributions can’t be measured simply by the box score. Nelson has shown a knack for making big plays when it matters – and he’s not afraid to take big shots, even if they sometimes miss. On Thursday, the big shot went in.

With the Nuggets and Suns trading shots for much of the game, Nelson came up with yet another clutch play when it mattered. With 2:27 remaining in the game, Nelson ran the break by himself. With P.J. Tucker right in front of him, he brought the ball down the court and converted on a contested 3-pointer. This basket put the Nuggets up 124-116 and put the icing on the cake.

Postgame, head coach Michael Malone said Nelson has been making big plays all year.

“Once again he made some big, big plays down the stretch, showing the poise that he has as a veteran leader on this team,” Malone said. “You need poise, composure and you need guys to step up and make big shots and quite frankly that’s what you’ve been seeing from Jameer Nelson. He’s made big shots for us. He’s not scared of the moment.”

At the half, the Nuggets trailed 57-61 thanks in part to the Suns shooting 58 percent from the field. But the Nuggets would soon make their move. Denver won the third quarter 39-31 and had a 96-92 lead as Nelson hit a baseline floater to finish the frame on a high note.

While it may have seemed as if the game was a game of traded punches, Will Barton was never worried. He felt that no matter what, the Nuggets would pull out a win. Barton had 16 points, four assist and two rebounds.

“It felt like a game that we were always in control. It looked like we were going back and forth but I felt like we were always in control” Barton said “Even when they made big runs I just felt like we had too much going to lose.”

For the Suns, it was their guard combo who got things going. Eric Bledsoe had 28 points, five assist and four rebounds. Devin Booker added 24 points and six assists, but it wasn’t enough to propel Phoenix as they now are in last place in the Western conference.

Nikola Jokic has been spectacular for the Nuggets this season and he continued that play against the Suns. He finished with 29 points, eight assist and 14 rebounds, recording his 18th double-double on the season. With 1:47 remaining in the game, there was a scary moment as Jokic went down with a hip injury that had the big man down for a few moments. He got up and walked off on his own power, but was limping noticeably. After the game it was determined that he suffered a left hip strain, but x-rays came back negative. His MRI is set for Friday morning.


Denver now has now won two in a row and pushed them a game ahead of the Trail Blazers into the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff race.

Emmanuel Mudiay missed his third straight game with low back soreness. He is listed as day-to-day.

With the win, the Nuggets have won five straight games at “home” (one was played in London on Jan. 12). They have now moved to above .500 at home, their first time doing so since starting 3-2 of the 2015-16 season.

Youth on Display

The Suns and the Nuggets are teams that are dominated by youth. That youth will be on display during the All-Star game in the coming weeks in New Orleans as Suns second-year guard Devin Booker and rookie forward Marquese Chriss were named to the Rising Stars Challenge. They will be joined by Nuggets trio Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic in that game.

Up Next

The Nuggets and the Suns face off again on Saturday. The Nuggets will travel to Phoenix to try and make it a win streak of three games.