The Denver Nuggets put their five-game winning streak on the line with Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, and the Detroit Pistons in town. To the surprise of no one, Grant was active and impactful early. There was a spark in his eye as he embraced the opportunity to take down his former team. But there was also a notable talent discrepancy. Try as they might, the try-hard Pistons fell behind quickly. The Nuggets took the lead at the end of the first quarter, and they never looked back. Final score: 134-119.
Nikola Jokić painted another masterpiece, Michael Porter Jr. made it looks easy again, and Will Barton III found some success at the rim.
To the grades:
Nikola Jokić – A+
After a very brief interruption from our regularly scheduled programming, Nikola Jokić looked like the best player in the world again Tuesday night. In just 26:46, Jokić posted 27 points, 8 rebounds, 11 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal on a ridiculous 13/16 from the floor. That’s utter domination, and that lone block came at the expense of Grant for good measure.
It was all too easy for him, allowing him to produce some of his genuinely unique highlights. I’m convinced there is only one player alive who even tries this.
Jokic’s loose ball tip-in. pic.twitter.com/2SlCeDExXU
— Jena Garcia (@VidaVivaDiva) April 7, 2021
Michael Porter Jr. – A
Porter makes the game look so effortless one begins to wonder why they haven’t pursued their own hundred million dollar contract yet. The Nuggets have reached a level that no longer calls for transcendent performances from any one star. And Porter is such an effective cog in this offense we’re in danger of overlooking his contributions altogether. What a fun reminder we got Tuesday night of how it looks when he’s in a rhythm. When those jumpers are falling on such nights, it’s not really up to the defense.
He’s improved so much around the rim, and it’s unlocked so much for Denver’s offense. He’s tall enough and such a talented finisher it’s almost unfair to pair him with Jokić. But that’s everyone else’s problem.
Aaron Gordon – B-
Grant did his damage across and against various assignments. But if Gordon’s top task was to contain Detroit’s leading scorer, it wasn’t his best performance in a Nuggets uniform. Grant finished with 29 points on 11/19 shooting. Of course, those are his totals, not a sampling of matchup data. JaMychal Green caught plenty of that work himself.
In the end, it wasn’t all that consequential. Gordon played a good game outside of that matchup, and the Nuggets ran away with it.
Let’s check back in on the Gordon-Jokić chemistry before we move on — just for fun.
Sharing is caring pic.twitter.com/bdRPfZGWVt
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 7, 2021
Will Barton III – A
The Pistons are no good, but that doesn’t change the fact that this team is virtually unstoppable when Barton plays well. That was the case Tuesday night. Barton finished with an impressive line: 24 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals on 10/16 from the floor.
It was a great night for him — the difference between that and a night when he forced the issue being his efficiency around the rim. That might say more about Detroit’s defense than anything else, but he looked comfortable and confident when driving to the rack.
Monte Morris – B-
Cool, calm, and collected. Morris finished with 10 points, 4 assists, 1 block (!), and 1 turnover. He even dunked it on a fast break as per Jamal Murray’s instructions on Instagram. What a sight for sore eyes to see Morris knife through the defense and finish adeptly at the rim. The starters didn’t need the boost, but he did a fine job in Murray’s stead. His next task: stabilizing a janky second unit.
Facundo Campazzo – B-
Speaking of the bench, they actually played pretty well against Detroit. Facu only finished with six points and five assists, but he turned in some quality minutes, eliciting a sigh of relief from Argentinians everywhere. We can give Facu a break, if only for tonight.
PJ Dozier – B-
Dozier picked up five assists and turned in some stellar defense Tuesday night. The assists were encouraging, but it was still a small adventure on the offensive end. It was his defense that stood out. He and Campazzo can swing a stint together when they swarm and agitate on that end, although that rarely manifests.
JaMychal Green – C+
Green was a bit underwhelming Tuesday night. But the good news? It didn’t matter. He finished with 8 points and 3 rebounds on 3/7 shooting.
Paul Millsap – B+
Millsap looked great in nearly 20 minutes off the bench. He finished 5/9 from the floor, 2/3 from deep, and grabbed five rebounds.
Clean-Up Crew (Markus Howard, Gary Clark, Vlatko Cancar, Zeke Nnaji) – Played
We saw a slight variation to the clean-up crew Tuesday night as Gary Clark checked in for garbage time. It was a boring garbage time. The People want Bol Bol.
Bol Bol and JaVale McGee each picked up another DNP despite ample opportunity for playing time in the blowout. Jamal Murray missed the game with right knee soreness. He was upgraded to Questionable earlier in the day after seemingly tweaking his knee against Orlando.
Both Grant and Plumlee received a tribute video. Plumlee finished with 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists.