Nuggets battle Thunder to the end without Nikola Jokic, but poor shooting proves costly as OKC prevails

12
Nuggets battle Thunder to the end without Nikola Jokic, but poor shooting proves costly as OKC prevails



OKLAHOMA CITY — Yes, the Nuggets missed Nikola Jokic. But they missed shots even more.

In a contest between shorthanded contenders that wavered between defensive excellence and offensive ugliness, Denver buckled for a key stretch and recovered too late in a 105-100 loss to the Thunder on Wednesday night.

Playing without Nikola Jokic (lower back pain) for just the second time this season, the Nuggets (33-16) shot 39% from the field including a collection of clumsy misses at the rim. But they managed to lead most of the night at Paycom Center thanks to an admirable defensive effort against Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and company.

It was 70-63 Denver with two minutes left in the third quarter when the Thunder finally unleashed a 20-2 run that spanned four minutes between frames. Without Jalen Williams and Isaiah Joe, Gilgeous-Alexander led all players with 30 points.

Aaron Gordon wasn’t efficient, but his two-way tenacity almost saved the Nuggets during a late comeback. Chet Holmgren drained a broken-play three after an offensive rebound with 22 seconds left to go ahead 101-97, effectively ending Denver’s run.

The moments that haunted the Nuggets were in transition: Lu Dort chasing down Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from behind to disrupt a fast-break and knock the ball off Caldwell-Pope’s leg with 1:48 left in a 96-93 game, or KCP pulling up for a missed three with a man advantage moments earlier.

Jokic’s absence isn’t expected to be a long-term concern, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said before opening tip. Denver is emerging from a 10-game stretch featuring nine opponents in the playoff picture. Next up is a pair of home matchups against the Trail Blazers.

“That back pain was not improving, wasn’t getting any better,” Malone said, “so it was just determined by medical staff to try to get that back right, rehab and treatment.”

The only way the Nuggets might fight off the Thunder without the two-time MVP was by scrapping and clawing. They seemed ready for the challenge. Disciplined defense propelled Denver to a 13-point lead early with Peyton Watson, Gordon and Caldwell-Pope all sharing the floor in a new starting lineup. Both teams had six blocks at the intermission, and the only scorers in double figures were Gilgeous-Alexander and Reggie Jackson. They had 12 each (10 in the first quarter for SGA), but they were shooting a combined 7 for 21 from the floor.

Malone also tried out a new second unit, staggering Michael Porter Jr. (15 points) and playing Zeke Nnaji at backup five instead of DeAndre Jordan. Joining forces with Jackson, Christian Braun and Justin Holiday, that lineup held relatively firm in the first half (minus two in six minutes) but was responsible for Oklahoma City’s decisive run in the second half.

Want more Nuggets news? Sign up for the Nuggets Insider to get all our NBA analysis.


Disasters Expo USA, is proud to be supported by Inergency for their next upcoming edition on March 6th & 7th 2024!

The leading event mitigating the world’s most costly disasters is returning to the Miami Beach

Convention Center and we want you to join us at the industry’s central platform for emergency management professionals.
Disasters Expo USA is proud to provide a central platform for the industry to connect and
engage with the industry’s leading professionals to better prepare, protect, prevent, respond
and recover from the disasters of today.
Hosting a dedicated platform for the convergence of disaster risk reduction, the keynote line up for Disasters Expo USA 2024 will provide an insight into successful case studies and
programs to accurately prepare for disasters. Featuring sessions from the likes of The Federal Emergency Management Agency,
NASA, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, TSA and several more this event is certainly providing you with the knowledge
required to prepare, respond and recover to disasters.
With over 50 hours worth of unmissable content, exciting new features such as their Disaster
Resilience Roundtable, Emergency Response Live, an Immersive Hurricane Simulation and
much more over just two days, you are guaranteed to gain an all-encompassing insight into
the industry to tackle the challenges of disasters.
By uniting global disaster risk management experts, well experienced emergency
responders and the leading innovators from the world, the event is the hub of the solutions
that provide attendees with tools that they can use to protect the communities and mitigate
the damage from disasters.
Tickets for the event are $119, but we have been given the promo code: HUGI100 that will
enable you to attend the event for FREE!

So don’t miss out and register today: https://shorturl.at/aikrW

And in case you missed it, here is our ultimate road trip playlist is the perfect mix of podcasts, and hidden gems that will keep you energized for the entire journey

-

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More