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Juancho Hernangomez helped the Nuggets put their early-season team-wide shooting slump behind them. For a night.
Heading into their matchup with the Cavs, the Nuggets were the second-worst three-point shooting team in the league, hitting on just a tick over 29 percent this season. That changed Thursday against Cleveland as Hernangomez’s five triples led the way for the Nuggets, who hit on a season-high 38.5 percent of their threes and blew out the Cavs 110-91.
For Hernangomez, who didn’t play in Denver’s 108-107 win over Chicago on Wednesday, Thursday’s standout performance was a reminder that he still brings value to the Nuggets’ rotation despite not being in line for consistent minutes on a night to night basis. Hernangomez’s shooting opened up the rest of the floor for Denver, which showed shades of its 2017-18 free-flowing offense in the final three quarters that had only been seen in segments over first few weeks of the season. Hernangomez played a season-high 27 minutes and finished with a game-high 23 points.
The Nuggets got off to a slow start against the Cavs just 24 hours after their victory in Chicago and trailed 27-15 after one quarter of action. But a 13-0 run in the second keyed by Paul Millsap, where the Nuggets held the Cavs without a field goal for nearly five minutes, put Denver back in the driver’s seat.
Denver led 50-42 at the half and expanded its lead to 83-66 behind more strong play from Millsap, who for the third-straight game looked comfortable and confident on the offensive end of the floor. Millsap finished with 16 points on 6-9 shooting and six rebounds.
The Nuggets’ bench gave Denver some much-needed energy too. Trey Lyles (12 points, eight rebounds) and Mason Plumlee (12 points, eight rebounds) showed well.
Denver’s fourth-ranked defense shined again. For the fourth time this season, the Nuggets held their opponent to under 100 points. Cleveland shot just 41 percent from the field and under 30 percent from three.
The Nuggets are off to their best start since the 1976-77 season, when Denver began the year 8-0.