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Nuggets Ward off Wizards and Win the Road Trip

Brendan Vogt Avatar
March 23, 2023

Got to get the get right games

Nikola Jokić – A+

The numbers imply outrageous consistency from the big fella. Still, those who watch every game know something was up. Jokić took his foot off the pedal for a short stretch in March – whether that’s related to pacing himself or the draining nature of the MVP dialogue, we could all see it happening. And we can all see now that we’re on the other side. Jokić is back to dominating the inferior competition.

Down key players and on the verge of waving the white flag this season, the Wizards didn’t present much opposition for the starters Wednesday night. But whatever they mustered up proved futile. Jokić and company pushed hard to separate in the third quarter, and Michael Malone responded by leaving the starters in for roughly 11 minutes. Jokić logged all 12, and Denver won the quarter by 23 points. It was a responsible performance from the best player in a get-right game. He set the tone on both ends of the floor.

Jamal Murray – B+

Murray played a good game in DC. We’ve wondered what his scaling back could look like; this was an excellent example. He only took 13 shots, scored efficiently, and led the team in assists. He got involved in the rebounding battle as well. Unfortunately, he struggled with the bench again in the first half. Malone switched to the KCP stagger, which didn’t work either. Still, Murray is stringing together some encouraging performances after a rough stretch in March.

Michael Porter Jr. – B+

It was a tale of two halves for Porter. His initially questionable process on offense was the gateway to an all-around unfocused effort in the first two quarters. Porter shot 0-6 from two-point range in the first half and wasn’t his best defensively. He drifted up and down the court. Thankfully, his ever-reliable three-point shot was there to buoy the first half minutes.

MPJ cleaned it up after the break. The better process led to better looks, and he began to play within the game’s flow. That led to 12 efficient points, two assists, and even two steals in the second half. The big three dominated the third quarter. Porter shot 6 of 9 from three-point range on the night.

Aaron Gordon – C

Aaron Gordon got his lunch money stolen in the first half. Deni Avdija took it right at him and through him in the second quarter. AG is supposed to be the most physical presence on the roster, but he looked overwhelmed by an underwhelming Wizards team. On offense, Washington left him wide-open from three, as teams are increasingly willing to do. Thankfully, he knocked down 2 of 3 Wednesday night. Still, Denver needs more from him defensively and on the glass.

KCP – C

KCP got nine shots up against his old team. Only two fell. He struggled to find his touch and was out there with the bench for some rough minutes in the second half. Missing shots is tenable, especially after the season he’s had. He did begin to force it a bit, though, and that’s not his game in Denver.

Bruce Brown – B

Brown can elicit frustration with missed threes, untimely turnovers, and forced floaters. The point guard play leaves much to be desired. But there’s still something to be said for a player who puts his head down and gets to the rim. Brown scored 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting and 4 of 4 from the stripe in DC. He grabbed six boards too. He’s also been playing with better energy on defense lately. He brings the most value to Denver when his defensive work rate is high.

Christian Braun – C

It was a rough go for CB from the field. He went scoreless in nearly 16 minutes off the bench, shooting 0 of 3 from deep. Critiquing him too harshly feels wrong, as effort is never the problem. And he’s among Denver’s few playmakers on defense. Still, he’s got to knock down his open looks.

Jeff Green – C+

The bench needed Green’s 11 points, but it hardly looked like a blueprint to success. His rare isolation victories aren’t so impressive when weighed against his inability to rebound the ball. Aside from his scoring and fouling, Green put up zeroes in the box score.

Zeke Nnaji – D

One game after we celebrated Nnaji’s return, he performed poorly. He finished with more turnovers than assists and more personal fouls than either points or rebounds. He is out there to help them get stops above all else, but the bench struggled in DC. Round and round we go.

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