The Denver Nuggets, and especially the bench, smashed the Washington Wizards on Saturday night, winning 116-100. The Nuggets bench outscored Washington’s 75-34 behind double digit performances from four different bench players.
Leading the charge from the bench was second year player, the Bosnian Beast, Jusuf Nurkic. Nurk and Coach Michael Malone have apparently resolved any issues they had as Malone said Nurkic had earned more minutes by working hard and having a good attitude. In four minutes against Phoenix, Jusuf player well enough to earn himself some more playing time on Saturday and he took full advantaged of the opportunity given to him by Coach Malone. In 17 minutes Nurkic put up 17 points with four rebounds and two blocks.
The Nuggets bench was clearly the reason they won this game. Along with Nurk’s 17 points, Darrell Arthur put up 17 with six boards, DJ Augustin had a great game putting up a double-double with 17 points of his own and ten assists, and Will “The Thrill” Barton put up 14 points in 29 minutes rounding out the bench scoring. Newcomer Axel Toupane also scored a solid 8 points.
And while the bench was totally solid and put up huge numbers in the minutes player, not enough can be said about how well Gary Harris has played this year. Flying underneath the radar as both Nikola Jokic and Emmanuel Mudiay play great ball and develop into star players, Harris has been the rock of this team, playing consistent, solid defense while putting up very good offensive numbers. Gary Harris is an unsung hero for the Nuggets and only adds to the strength of the young core.
The Nuggets are not giving up on this season and with their fourth straight win, a current Western conference high tied with the Warriors, they are still trying to compete for the eighth and final wild card spot. Whether they can get in or not will be based off playing like they have these last four games. They will also need a little bit of luck that two of the three teams, Houston, Dallas, or Utah lose some games in the final stretch of the season. The Nuggets are 5 games back of the last wild card spot, but Dallas is not playing well lately and despite Utah winning their last two games, they are still 3-7 in the last ten. The Nuggets do not want to be counted out and their grit and determination to play meaningful basketball is really showing the character this team has.