Denver Nuggets: Grades in their defeat against the Clippers

Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images /

Well, you were bamboozled by coach Michael Malone again if you expected a complete game from Denver’s starters against the LA Clippers.

For the Denver Nuggets, the 2nd seed was within reach and I thought for a second there they might go try and take it but, apparently, Malone is partial to a first round playoff match-up with the Utah Jazz. The game was fun to watch through three quarters until the starters didn’t come back and we were easily dispatched 124-111. Jokic showed he was ready for a game that mattered by imposing his will and the offense was generally exciting to watch. Wuth that in mind, here are my Nuggets grades against the LA Clippers.

Nikola Jokic: A

Nikola had 20/20 court vision against the Clippers. He was finding teammates seemingly at will. If he was double-teamed in the post he was finding the open man in seconds and there was little LA could do to stop it. He also scored17 which could have been more had the Nuggets played their starters the whole way. The Joker showed what he can do against Ann elite defense and if I were the Clippers I would not be looking forward to any future meeting with the Nuggets.

Jamal Murray: C-

Jamal just couldn’t seem to get into a flow against The Clippers disruptive guards (10 points, 5 assists). This was a potential 2nd round playoff match-up preview and it would have been reassuring to see Murray get some more looks and create some opportunities for himself. I have hope Jamal will bounce back and the Nuggets will need that if they want to make a deep playoff run

Paul Milsap: D-

Paul Milsap just isn’t showing me why he should be starting at power forward for this Denver Nuggets team. I love Paul but 5 points and 5 rebounds in 23 minutes can’t happen anymore especially when Jerami Grant shows out like he did. Paul still is a nice defensive player but he is not able to get his own shot right now. Perhaps he is still shaking off the rust or isn’t 100%.

Torrey Craig: C-

Torrey didn’t seem to impact the game one way or another. He had good hustle moments and his defense was fine against the duo of Paul George/Kawhi Leonard but nothing that really stood out. He even seemed to lack some of that intensity he is known for and if he isn’t bringing that I am not sure what his upside really is. Intensity is Craig’s game so hopefully we will see it in bunches as we move forward.

Michael Porter Jr.: C+

MPJ was up against his hardest assignment so far on the NBA level, being guarded by Paul George and Kawhi Leonard nearly every posession. He hung in there though and didn’t look like a complete rookie. MPJ definitely didn’t score at the clip in which he had been lately (11 points) but he had some nice moments and even an early blocked shot on Paul George.

Monte Morris: C-

Monte is still a step away from being his regular season self, to me. He came out and hit a nice 3- pointer early on and I was excited that maybe he was going to be a bit more aggressive. Morris is capable of more than he has shown but he was extremely steady on the defensive end and ran the second unit efficiently.

Jerami Grant: A

Grant was effective in every phase of the game. He was able to score at the rim and from distance with 25 points, shooting 64.3% from the floor. He guarded both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard throughout the evening and was the most impactful doing that all night. He picked up the second unit when they were stagnant and was engaged every minute he was on the floor. His highlight was an end-to-end possession finishing with a dunk with .4 on the clock. This is the Jerami Grant the Nuggets need every night.

Mason Plumlee: D

Mason was second lowest in +/- at a -14 and really did not contribute at all on the offensive end (4 points in 19 minutes). Maybe it’s the mental toll of being in the bubble or maybe it’s just been harder for him to shake off the rust. In his defense, he is playing with a few guys that haven’t logged much time in the regular season (Bol Bol, PJ Dozier, Kieta Bates-Diop) and the growing pains of leaning to play with new/young players can be frequent.

P.J. Dozier: F

P.J. was completely off of his game and the Clippers got the best of him. It must be intimidating to go up against some of the elite defensive players that the league has to offer. He looked timid and unsure of himself through the majority of the game and did not bring much of anything to the table to give the Nuggets an edge versus LA. I am a P.J. Dozier fan but he just looked outclassed in all aspects of the game.

Bol Bol: B+

Bol Bol only played 10 minutes but was able to get a steal, a block and seven points in that time. His length bothered a few shooters and he really just made the most of his time on the court. It’s easy to be excited about Bol when you get to witness him at work. His athletic ability in that unique 7’3 body and his 7″8 wingspan is enough to make anyone excited. His minutes are likely coming to an end at playoff time so let’s enjoy the young man before we have to wait a whole season to do so again.

Next. Nuggets locked into the third seed. dark

The loss by the Houston Rockets solidified that Denver’s first round playoff opponent will be Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz. Win or lose against Toronto, our match-up remains the same. If will Barton or Gary Harris are healthy it would be nice to see them get a little tune-up prior to the playoff frenzy.. Regardless, the Nuggets are doing their best to become a cohesive team despite the injuries. We will see if these seeding games have given them enough time or not.