Three Takeaways from Lopsided Win Over Wizards

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic reacts against the Phoenix Suns in the first half at Footprint Center on 20 Oct. 2021. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic reacts against the Phoenix Suns in the first half at Footprint Center on 20 Oct. 2021. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

After a long seven-game road trip, the Nuggets had an impressive homecoming win against the Washington Wizards to put them a game over .500. The only blemish on an almost flawless performance was the ejection by Nikola Jokic that triggered a defensive collapse. Let’s take a closer look at what the Nuggets can build on from here.

Denver Nuggets: Jokic Loses It Again, Risking a Bad Rep

Jokic is understandably frustrated with officials, as he’s not receiving the treatment generally reserved for a reigning MVP. Against the Wizards, non-calls on screens against Jokic followed by him taking a hard elbow on a drive by Spencer Dinwiddie. Jokic landed on the floor. Another no-call.

On the ensuing trip downcourt, Jokic was called for an illegal screen. His complaint to the officials was hardly profane, saying he just said “call a foul.”

Instead of getting some preferential treatment, it seems Jokic is now risking the opposite. Officials might be aware of him, but he could be on their radar for the wrong reason. This is his second ejection of the season after the blatant shove of Markieff Morris resulted in an ejection and a one-game suspension.

Jokic ultimately recognized his error and tried to do damage control in his post-game comments, chronicled by Mike Singer in the Denver Post.

"“I really don’t what to talk about (what happened) because whatever I say is not going to change it. This is the best league in the world — with probably the best players in the world and probably the best referees in the world. Everybody is doing their job on a high level.”"

Perhaps some in-game lobbying with the officials is tolerable, but the stars who do it best understand they need to do it with just the right touch. Jokic needs to give it a rest for a bit.

Denver Nuggets: Coach Michael Malone Holding Things Together

Coach Malone is doing an admirable job keeping the team in the playoff mix. The final win on the long road trip against the San Antonio Spurs might have carried over, as the Nuggets played uptempo from the start in their first home game.

In addition, the team that has looked sluggish after halftime seems to have broken out of their third-quarter slump. They scored 31 against the Spurs and then topped that with 32 against the Wizards.

In the absence of Will Barton and JaMychal Green, Malone has pulled the right strings with the bench unit. Markus Howard is proving he can help fill the void from three-point land in the absence of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Howard hit three of four on treys against the Wizards, which followed his 6-12 three-point shooting performance in the win against the Spurs.

Denver Nuggets: A Passing Clinic

At times, the Nuggets looked like the Harlem Globetrotters running and passing around the Washington Generals, er, Wizards. Facundo Campazzo led the way with imaginative and seemingly impossible passes, including a behind-the-head pass back for a three-pointer. Jokic also slung the ball with his characteristic vision, leading the team with nine assists.

This Wednesday, the Nuggets will play the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are chasing the Nuggs in the playoff picture. Hopefully the Nuggets can continue to play with the same cohesiveness on offense to add to their stepped-up intensity on defense this season.

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