The Nuggets came out and won in Kobe’s final game against Denver with a well-rounded team effort. Kobe put up 28 points, but it wasn’t enough to push the Lakers for the win as five players for the Nuggets scored in double figures.
The bench provided the energy for the Nuggets in this game with DJ Augustin leading the charge. Augustin led the Nuggets in scoring with 20 points and was great beyond the arc shooting 5-7. Augustin’s good play since coming to the Nuggets has been the center of quite a few wins already and the pickup is proving to be valuable for the Nuggets.
Jusuf Nurkic also played great as he racked up a season high 18 points in 26:18 of playing time. Nurkic continued to show why he is such a valuable player when healthy and him and Joffrey Lauvergne paired up and played well as the two big men. Even with the starters not playing terrific, the bench energy and scoring ability carried the Nuggets to a win.
Perhaps the most positive note of the game was the defense of newly signed Axel Toupane. Toupane was guarding Kobe primarily and shut him down for the most part. Although he only scored 8 points in 22 minutes of playing time, he put up a +26 +/- and kept Kobe in check while on the court. The defense from Toupane has been a huge bright spot and probably the biggest reason the Nuggets signed him for 2 years.
The win was a good one for the Nuggets, but ultimately it was more harmful than helpful at this point of the season. Every win puts the Nuggets at less of a chance for a high draft pick, and every win really doesn’t make them playoff contenders. The wins can be called and characterized as “character wins” and still count for something. The growth of young players on the Nuggets is definitely worth something for each win and with that the future gets a little bit brighter. The Nuggets future is bright, next season even looks like they could compete, so with each win is more experience.
Denver plays again tomorrow night against the other Los Angeles team, the Clippers. It will be another tough game for the Nuggets, but is a good opportunity for Emmanuel Mudiay to play one of the best point guards in the game, Chris Paul. The pressure should fuel the fire for Mudi, so expect a hard fought performance from the rookie.