NEW YORK CITY – As the 2019-20 Denver Nuggets season continues to move along, one of the most glaring issues has been their inability to hit shots.

“Making shots,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said after the Nuggets 105-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. “We struggled to make shots…It is something that has been plaguing our offense.”

“We just did not shoot the ball well,” Nikola Jokic reiterated after Denver’s loss to the Lakers. “Even when we found open guys, we were not making it. It is the story of the season right now.”

Well, against the New York Knicks on Thursday night, that trend came to a halt as the Nuggets put up 129 points, hit a season-high 21 shots from three-pint range, and also had a season-high in assists with a whopping 38 dimes on 49 made shots.

“Just moving the ball,” Malone said when asked what changed offensively against the Knicks. “We knew we would get some open looks and it was just a matter of us stepping up and knocking them down. For us to finally see it go through as much as it did tonight was great.”

But what made this win so impressive is that Denver also kept their league-leading defense operating at a high level while their offensive output skyrocketed simultaneously. Chalking this win up to playing an inferior opponent is the low-hanging fruit.

The Knicks could only muster 92 points as they shot a meager 41% from the field and missed 25 of their 34 three-point attempts. They turned the ball over 14 times which led to 18 points for the Nuggets. Denver also held the New York, who entered their battle with the Nuggets as the best offensive rebounding team in the NBA, to just five offensive rebounds and nine second-chance points. Denver is now undefeated in the nine games they hold their opponent under 100 points.

Denver decimated the Knicks and they did it playing their brand of basketball which is more important than the opponent they faced. Chalking this win up to playing an inferior opponent is the low-hanging fruit. Regardless of who the opponent is, a win of that caliber is still noteworthy.

“What I loved about tonight was really good defense, great rebounding — which is a big improvemnt from (Sacramento) and (Los Angeles) — and that led to great offense,” Malone explained after the Nuggets demolition of the Knicks. “That is when we are at our best and this is what we are capable when we play both ends at such a high level.”

As usual, the Nuggets starting unit was strong, but Denver overwhelmed New York with their bench unit; specifically in their first stint between the end of the first quarter and the start of the second frame.

“I think the key to tonight’s game was that we went to our bench at the end of the first quarter and into the second and that group was great,” Malone said. “They allowed us to have that really quality second quarter, 34-18.

“I think we scored 74 off the bench tonight which is obviously tremendous. I think for us, it always starts on the defensive end and I think those guys defend at a high level and that allows us to get out and run and attack.”

For Monte Morris, who is the leader and tone-setter for Denver’s reserves, their incredible performance came down to one thing: accepting the challenge of being better after a slow start to the season.

“We just wanted to come out and challenge ourselves to start cranking it up,” Morris explained. “We’ve played a lot of games this season already so it was time to take our turn and share the ball like we were tonight.”

But Denver’s bench-unit explosion went far beyond just Morris, who had 15 points, three rebounds, six assists, three steals, one block and only one turnover in 26 minutes of action.

Jerami Grant is starting to find a rhythm with his new team and his performance of the Knicks was more evidence to justify that fact. Grant had 16 points, three rebounds, and one assist in his 21 minutes on the floor as he shot 6-of-9 from the field.

Juancho Hernangomez and Malik Beasley also gave a massive lift to a Nuggets team that had been starved of perimeter shooting.

The two wings combined to shoot 7-of-14 from three-point range while also combining for five rebounds and five assists as both found other ways to impact the game. Beasley was particularly impactful as he added 14 points, two rebounds, and one assist. In his 24 minutes on the floor, the Nuggets outscored the Knicks by 33 points.

“His three-point shooting,” Malone answered when asked what Beasley adds now that he is back in the rotation. “We need shooting and we need guys who can make some shots. Malik is a guy who last year and this year is shooitng 40+% from the three point line and we need those shots.

“He plays so hard, right? Him and Juancho. You know when you call their number, those guys are going to give great effort.”

Still, none of those individuals was able to tie together the bench unit like Mason Plumlee did at Madison Square Garden.

“We played through Mason,” Malone stated proudly. “Mason was great tonight.”

Not only did Plumlee hit all five of his shots and cause chaos on defense, but he also flirted with a triple-double as he scored 11 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out six assists in 21 minutes of action.

Malone continually noted that Denver’s 129-92 win over the Knicks was a full team effort and it’s impossible to argue that fact. Denver had eight players in double figures including all five of their regular reserves.

On a night that the Nuggets needed a feel-good win, everyone on the team stepped up and accepted the challenge.

“Everybody contriubuted and everybody stepped up so it is a good way to start out the road trip,” Malone said.