Poppa Milsap and Blue Arrow Lead The Nuggets Past The Grizzlies
Coming off a 1-11 shooting night against Brooklyn, the next game against Memphis was a key one for Jamal Murray. Jamal's shots just hadn't been falling all year and felt like maybe the progression we've seen from Murray had stopped. The Blue Arrow came out and made one thing obvious last night: He has the "Mamba" trait.
All our lives we're told to not focus on our past too hard because there's nothing we can do to change it. In most of our professions, focusing on the past will only negate from future work and possibility. The NBA is not an average profession and we're all aware of that. Some players have a bad game and dial it up to an off-night and just move on. The great ones will never accept an off-night as an excuse. Kobe always had this famous way of bouncing off a poor game. When Kobe had a bad game, it was almost a guarantee the next night he wasn't just going to bounce back, he was going to make up for the game before. Jamal showed his Mamba instinct in the first half of last night.
A match-up against the new hot rookie PG and coming off a poor performance, I know Jamal was salivating at the mouth for this one. We all saw it. If you listen to the Knuckleheads podcast, the first question they ask every interview is "Who was the first player to bust your ass in The League?". Last night was the special night for Ja Morant and Jamal Murray was his special person. By halftime, the Nuggets were up 30 and Jamal had already gone for 26. After holding in for a quarter, Ja Morant and the Grizzlies defense had no answers for what Jamal Murray and the rest of the Nuggets offense were doing. The Nuggets put up 44 in the 2nd quarter, which is up there for highest scoring quarter in team history (47), and is the highest scoring 2nd quarter in team history. Jamal would finish with 39 and continued to bust Ja all night. Jamal>Ja
To add to Jamal's 39, Poppa Milsap contributed 22 and continued to be the veteran leader the Nuggets need him to be. The Nuggets are slowly discovering just who this years squad is, and the true potential they have. Prior to last night, the offense had been lacking and not the reason for us winning. The heart of why the Nuggets have been able to win despite not playing up to full capability, is Paul Milsap. Through his 3 years and in great part to Mike Malone's defensive style, this Nuggets team is defense first. Munder Season is in full effect (Shout-out r/DenverNuggets). While giving the normal defensive effort Milsap was paid to deliver, his offensive stats are the best they have been since his all star years in Atlanta. His points per 40 is at an all time career high, true shooting percentage % is at an all time high, and PER is above 20, for what would be his 4th time in his career.
To assume we can expect career bests from Milsap is just crazy, but he's earning his money right now. A veteran LEADER steps up and plays his best while everyone else isn't. In what might be Milsap's best 10-12 game stretch as a Nugget, the rest of his boys are starting to find their shot. Murray came alive last night, Joker always starts slow and gets better as the year goes on(that's a whole different article for down the road), the bench is finding the right rotation, and the team was starting to click on offense last night. Paul Milsap is the Pops to this Nuggets team and dad has stepped up when he's needed most. Look for Milsap's stats to take a step back as the rest of the offense comes alive. Exactly like a true leader would do. Does what's needed, when it's needed the most, even if it means taking a step back to let others shine.
INCOMING: SPLENDID SERBIAN HOOKER
Juancho and Jerami also pitched in 15 and 12 respectively. Juancho's been a key fill in to an under-performing Nuggets bench and is increasing his role with every game he plays. Jerami Grant is slowly becoming more electric and really establishing who he is for the Nuggets. 3 and D guy that can make spark-type momentum plays. He was inches away for taking a life in the Brooklyn game and had a thunderous dunk last night. Plumlee continues to be one of the best bench centers in the NBA and a big part of the dominant D. MPJ showed us he can score and while the defense isn't up to Mike Malone par, the progression is evident as he picked up two blocks last night. The bench has picked up and the offense is starting to spark at the right time. With a four game home-stand that kicks off with a couple big tests in Houston then Boston, the Nuggets will have to show up on both sides. The defense will be tasked with stopping the 2nd highest scoring team in Houston in the first game, and two nights later the offense will be tested against a tough Celtics D.
POST-ARTICLE: Peep what might be favorite Nuggets jersey ever. City jerseys coming later this year!