Denver Nuggets Center Nikola Jokic (left) rebounded next to Orlando Magic Center Wendell Carter Jr. in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, April 4, 2021 in Denver.
Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., left, congratulates forward Aaron Gordon following his basket against the Orlando Magic in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Sunday, April 4, 2021. (AP Photo / David Zalubowski)
Orlando Magic Guard R.J. Hampton, left, drives past Jamal Murray, the Denver Nuggets security guard, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Sunday, April 4, 2021.
Denver Nuggets Center Nikola Jokic (left) wants the Pass the ball as Orlando Magic Center defends Wendell Carter Jr. in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Sunday, April 4, 2021. Orlando Magic forward Chuma Okeke drives during the Denver Nuggets security guard Jamal Murray defended in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, April 4, 2021 in Denver.
Orlando Magic Center Wendell Carter Jr. (right) blocks a shot from striker Will Barton from Denver Nuggets during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, April 4, 2021 in Denver.
Orlando Magic Guard Dwayne Bacon (center) tries to pass the ball while Denver Nuggets (center) Nikola Jokic (left) and striker Will Barton in the first half of an NBA Defend basketball game in Denver on Sunday April 4, 2021.
Orlando Magic Center Mo Bamba (right) tries to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap, in the first half of an NBA Basketball game on Sunday, April 4, 2021 in Denver.
Murray’s clutch 3-pointer towards the end of the fourth quarter nearly sealed an exciting battle against the magic, whose deal with Aaron Gordon in the nuggets last week was still fresh was. After sleepwalking through the first half, the nuggets turned on the throttles and blew the magic in the second half.
The Nuggets ‘119-109 win extended their winning streak to five, improved their record to 31-18 and spoiled the fans’ first round in the Ball Arena with an extremely entertaining game. Denver prevailed 72-44 against Orlando in the second half and took the win.
« This is about effort, about getting locked up and playing the way you care and want to win the game, » said Nuggets coach Michael Malone of the changes in the second half.
Gordon scored 24 team-level points in his first match against the only NBA team he ever knew, including a handful of reverse jams to highlight. Most of these feeds came from Nikola Jokic, who provided 16 assists in addition to 17 points. The fans sang Jokic all night with almost as many « M-V-P » chants.
The officials were nowhere near as enthusiastic. Both Malone and Jokic had a field day when they whistled their disapproval.
« Wow, » Malone said when asked about not calling Jokic. « My frustration level is high, just to keep it short and sweet. My frustration level is high. »
Michael Porter Jr. added 20 points and 12 rebounds while Murray filled in 22. As if the starters weren’t dangerous enough, Monte Morris’s return from a quad loader offered a huge boost to Denver’s second unit.
The Nuggets played with renewed energy to start the third quarter after a lackluster opening half. Unsurprisingly, it started with defense.
The nuggets expired on Orlando’s five turnovers, throwing electrical transition obscurations, and played with a cohesion that wasn’t there to start the game. Instead of asking for whistles, Jokic cut the Orlando defense apart with eight assists in the neighborhood alone. He set up Porter for an alley-oop praise, then possession later led Murray to a breakaway dunk.
What was once an 18-point deficit only became a heading in the fourth quarter after the Nuggets beat Orlando 38-21. The emotional night that included JaVale McGee’s most recent debut with the Nuggets was enhanced by touching tribute videos to Gary Harris and R.J. Hampton. The latter enjoyed playing in front of his old teammates, which was evident from several demonstrative results.
Having already lost a handful of games against inferior opponents this season, Malone was rightly concerned when he went into Sunday’s tip.
« What I’ve been telling our entire group is that this game is all about us, » said Malone. « If we think we can only show up because we’re playing against a team that may not have a marquee name, we’ll find ourselves in a ball game. »
« It’s not about Aaron versus the magic, » he added. « It’s about us together, what’s our approach and if we’re professional in our approach it means we go out there and play at the level we played at. »
In the three games since trading, Malone said he was most impressed with Gordon’s seamless fit with the starters.
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« You have to give Aaron Gordon a tremendous amount of credit for coming here on a big business for us, but he came here to adjust, » Malone said sadly. “I think he realizes, ‘I come to a really good basketball team, they have a top 2 or 3 offensive in the NBA. Let me get out of here and just fit in with these guys, play against them. how I make myself comfortable. ‘”
The Nuggets played their strangest first half of the season against Magic on Sunday night. Maybe it was Orlando in Denver’s coincidence so soon after their milestone trade, or maybe it had to do with getting Morris back on the rotation, but the nuggets were unusually off for the first two quarters. They followed 65-47 on break after flipping them nine times and ceding nine 3-pointers to magic.
Despite eleven points in the first half, Jokic seemed frustrated with an inconsistent whistle. At some point, already fed up with office, he laughed sarcastically when he whistled but was not given a shooting foul.
Porter added 11 points and six rebounds while Gordon had a team high of 14, including the first 12 points of the Denver night.
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