Sometimes, it’s nice when the Denver Nuggets make life easy for themselves.

The Nuggets won 126-103 over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday evening, completing a 3-1 road trip in blowout fashion. Denver did their damage on both ends of the floor and left nothing to doubt, shooting 60% from the field and 48% from three-point range as a team. They also limited the Bulls to 49% from the field and 27% from three, forcing 18 turnovers in the process.

Michael Porter Jr. was the star of the night. he hit six three-pointers en route to a 31-point outing, a season high for him in just 24 minutes. He had 28 points in the first and third quarters combined, finding open areas in the defense and capitalizing on that space nearly every time. Nikola Jokić was more than willing to keep feeding him shots too, as Jokić racked up 14 assists, including 12 in the first half alone.

Jamal Murray also finished the night with 23 points on 9-of-18 from the field. He started the game just 3-of-10 but got better as the game went along, dealing with a high level of physicality from Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu at the point-of-attack. Murray led the bench unit tonight with Bones Hyland out again, and it’s no surprise that the bench looked much better in the second half as Murray looked better himself.

The Nuggets showcased a high level of focus against the Bulls throughout the evening. Denver won every quarter, scoring a consistent 29 and 35 points in each of them. On the other end, the Nuggets limited the Bulls to 47 points in the first half and 56 points in the second half, both of which are entirely reasonable numbers. Denver responded well to finish their road trip 3-1, locking in from the beginning and never relinquishing control.

Here are my three primary takeaways from the Nuggets matchup with the Bulls on Sunday evening:

Michael Porter Jr. has a career night

After a tough game in Boston on Friday night, MPJ entered the game on Sunday with a vengeance. Hitting several of his first shots and rotating well on defense, Porter put together maybe the second best first quarter of his career. He got into foul trouble in the second quarter which curtained any major explosions until the second half.

When the third quarter began, Porter picked right up where the first quarter left off. He was moving well without the ball, creating opportunities for himself with a high level understanding of how to find those shots within the flow of things. He also had a couple of nice drives to the basket, mixing in some paint attempts with his elite shooting.

To go with excellent offense, Porter also played excellent defense. His rotations, good hands, and size on the wing helped limit opportunities for DeRozan and LaVine. Even if Porter wasn’t the primary defender on those plays, he was still making an impact. Porter finished with two steals, but his high level of activity helped the other starters combine for seven steals themselves.

Porter being a part of the machine on both ends is a major development. Credit to him for absolutely bringing it after a tough loss in Boston.

Nikola Jokić dominates with dimes

There weren’t a lot of shot attempts for Nikola Jokić in Sunday’s game. Sometimes, that’s the result of passiveness and can be a bad thing.

Tonight, it was definitely a good thing, a byproduct of Jokić absolutely dominating with the ball in his hands. He shot the ball just four times and had eight points, but he accumulated 14 assists in the process compared to just two turnovers. His ability to read the floor and set his teammates up for easy shots may be unparalleled in the NBA today, certainly for a big man.

With the offense humming to perfection, there was no need for Jokić to force his own shots tonight. He probably could have scored if he wanted to, but the Nuggets won his 28 minutes by 29 points, so it’s hard to argue with the process. Jokić absolutely did his job tonight on both ends, and his best and favorite skill shined for most of the evening.

Defense recovers in Chicago

After allowing 131 points in Boston, the Nuggets knew they needed to be better in Chicago. DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine are each capable of nuclear shooting performances, and the supporting cast can also make things happen.

So, Denver allowing just 103 points is a great sign. Porter’s performance on defense deserves a second mention. Jokić had three steals tonight and walled off the paint reasonably well. The Nuggets consistently rotated the weak side low man all the way over to the strong side of the floor on side pick and rolls. That gave Chicago trouble all night as they struggled to find the open man in the weak side corner.

Denver’s capable of strong defensive performances. The starters combined for nine steals. The bench had three blocks. Bruce Brown had his second game in a row of double-digit rebounds. Christian Braun contained the perimeter well in his minutes.

Overall, a great night for the defense to close the road trip out strong.

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