After a 2nd half to remember against the Orlando Magic on Sunday night, the Denver Nuggets will try and continue to climb the Western Conference standings against the basement-dwellers of the east.
The new-look Denver Nuggets face off with the new Jerami Grant
It was a frightening sight for the 4,000 fans in attendance at Ball arena on Sunday night. The Denver Nuggets were dysfunctional to start, and they found themselves down 18 points at the half to the abysmal Orlando Magic.
However, a much improved showing in the 2nd half saw the Nuggets pull off an impressive comeback. Aaron Gordon led all players with 24 points and he was instrumental in catapulting the Nuggets back into the game vs his former team. His slashing mentality really seemed to sit well with Nikola Jokic, who racked up 16 assists in the 119-109 win.
Denver will look to improve on their current 5 game win streak tonight, welcoming a familiar foe back to the Mile-High city for the first time. Jerami Grant and his Detroit Pistons will try to humble the high-flying Nuggets offense as they try and hop out of the cellar of the Eastern Conference.
Grant has thrived in his new role with Detroit and the stats clearly back that up. He averages 22.4 Points Per Game this year compared to just 12.0 last year on the Nuggets. He has shown Detroit that he is far more than just a 3-and-D wing, which was how he was utilized during his tenure in Denver. He is also averaging career-highs in field goals made and attempted, assists and minutes, thus justifying his $20 million per year price tag.
Although Denver was undoubtedly feeling the loss of Jerami Grant earlier in the season, the acquisition of Aaron Gordon has made it a whole lot easier to put that loss in the rear-view mirror. In just 4 games with his new club, Gordon has added an extra dimension to the Nuggets on both sides of the floor. His aggressive slashing nature adds another option to an offense that already has some top talent. However his length and elite athleticism on the defensive end really helps fill the hole that was left gaping after Grant’s departure last summer. not to mention, both his ability and willingness to run the floor can make the Nuggets an elite team in transition.
The Aaron Gordon addition has also sparked his direct competition in Michael Porter Jr. With space for both of them in the starting lineup, the duo brings a lot of similar qualities to the table; freakish athleticism, great slashers and runners of the floor, and a lanky frame of about 6’9 or 6’10. MPJ’s -factor is his Kevin Durant-like stroke from deep. He has also been on a tear offensively recently and is showing no signs of slowing down. In the last 30 days, he is averaging 20.9 Points Per Game. to put that in perspective, Jamal Murray is averaging just 20.1 PPG in the exact same span.
The problem with Porter Jr. has always been his effort on the defensive end. The theory that he is lazy on that end of the court has often been the reason why many fans have thought that Denver will eventually move on from MPJ. However, He displayed incredible defense down the stretch against Kawhi Leonard when the Nuggets faced the Clippers last week. This prompted encouragement from Nuggets fans that Porter Jr. is willing to grow on that end for the betterment of the team. Something that could certainly take the Nuggets over-the-top.
NUGGETS INJURY NEWS:
Jamal Murray (Right Knee Soreness) will be a game-time decision by coach Mike Malone. Murray wore a wrap around the same knee vs the Magic on Sunday and he looked fine. Quite possible that he sits this one out as a precaution.