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Surprisingly, it’s been the Denver Nuggets’ defense, not their offense, that’s carried them throughout the first week of the regular season. But with Will Barton and the 15-plus points per game he averaged last season on the shelf for at least the next six weeks, who would pick up some of the Nuggets’ scoring load for an offense that hasn’t exactly clicked before tonight?
Denver got its answer in the first quarter of Tuesday’s 126-112 win over the Sacramento Kings: Gary Harris.
Forty-eight hours after posting 28 points on an efficient 11-20 shooting in the Nuggets’ 100-98 win over the Warriors, Harris scored 11 first-quarter points against the Kings. He went in into halftime with 16, and tallied 18 points on just 12 shots before he was pulled with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter. At that point, Denver led by 105-81, which meant Harris’ night was done. The Nuggets turned the rest of the game over to their bench and coasted to their fourth win of the season.
The Nuggets are 4-0 and are off to their best start since the 2009-10 season, when Denver began the year 5-0.
Denver didn’t turn in the type of defensive performance it did over its first three games, but the Nuggets still showed well on that end of the floor. The Nuggets’ offense, however, was firing on all cylinders.
Paul Millsap had his best offensive performance of the young season, finishing with 15 points on 6-10 shooting in just 22 minutes. Nikola Jokic had a quiet night compared to his last two offensive outings but still registered 14 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Jamal Murray came alive in the third quarter after two sub-par games. He scored 14 of his team-high 19 points.
Denver’s bench had a solid night too. Monte Morris finished with 11 points and seven assists. Trey Lyles added 12 points and five rebounds. Malik Beasley had a strong night too, scoring 11 points on 5-10 shooting.
The Nuggets (4-0) travel to Los Angeles to face LeBron James and the Lakers on Thursday.