The Denver Nuggets returned to the Pepsi Center, following a close loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday evening. The loss pushed Denver into second place in the Western Conference standings, but until Friday night, the Nuggets had been undefeated at home. The Brooklyn Nets handed the Nuggets its first loss of the season, defeating Denver, 112-110.

While the Nuggets were not able to pick a victory, fans should be encouraged by Nikola Jokic’s performance.

The Good — Jokic scores big

Jokic faced a lot criticism from fans, coaches and teammates in Wednesday’s loss to the Grizzlies, after having what was arguably his worst game of the season. In the road loss, Jokic recorded only four points, four assists and seven rebounds. What was even more discouraging was the fact that Jokic had more turnovers (6) than shot attempts (1).

Following the game, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told the media that he wanted the big man to be more aggressive on offense.

“I’d like him to take more shots,” Malone said. “He’s not shooting and we’ll have to figure out why.”

Jokic heard his coaches’ comments and responded with a 37 points on on 14-of-22 shooting against Brooklyn. For good measure, Jokic also added 21 rebounds to round out a stellar performance.

A big key to his success in the game was getting off to a hot start. Jokic scored 20 points and made 9-of-12 field goal attempts in the first half alone. What’s more, he was assertive on offense while still playing his game. Jokic consistently put himself in position to score and the impact was palpable.

“He was just aggressive.” Malone said. “We knew with the way that their bigs playing the way that they play down the floor that he would have a chance to get good looks and he took advantage of it.”

The Bad – Trailing Brooklyn at the half

Slow starts have plagued the Nuggets all year, and Friday was no different. Brooklyn built an early double digit lead, and other than Jokic, nobody on the Nuggets responded in the first two quarters.

Denver’s inability to start the game with the same energy that is displayed in the second half is concerning, and is definitely an issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later. Whether it ends up being a shift in the pace of play or switching up the starting lineup, the Nuggets clearly need to shake things up.

“We lost that game in the first quarter,” Malone said. “The turnovers in the first quarter–the three-point defense in the first quarter–we gave up seve 3’s…Now you’re playing catch up the rest of the night.”

Jokic was the only scorer for Denver in double digits at the half with 20 points, and the Nuggets could not find an offensive rhythm in the first half as a result.

The Nuggets did not take its first lead of the game until 3:27 remaining in the third quarter. But Brooklyn was scorching hot from beyond the arch, finishing with 27 points off 3-point attempts, 18 more than the Nuggets (9).

The Ugly – Nuggets fall to Brooklyn

The Nuggets are still having a great season, and should definitely be considered a contender in the Western Conference. But a loss at home to the Nets is extremely disappointing for a squad that is trying to prove its legitimacy to the rest of the league.

Denver allowed the Nets to score 112 points in the game after holding multiple opponents to under 100 points. What is even more alarming is that the Nuggets lost despite not only shooting better from the field but out-rebounding Brooklyn as well.

Denver had a four-point lead with a minute left in the game and did not capitalize down the stretch to ensure the victory and spoiled Jokic’ night.

“When you’re up four at home with a minute to go you have to close that game out,” Malone said. “We had a hard time guarding at the end and containing.”

Denver will look to a avoid a three-game skid when the Milwaukee Bucks come to town on Sunday afternoon.