Denver Nuggets: Player of the Game from Chicago Bulls Win

Denver Nuggets (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Denver Nuggets put a workmanlike performance on the floor on Wednesday Night.  The scoring was spread out, the defense was great but one player stood out.

That player is Paul Millsap, whose tip with 0.1 seconds left on the game clock pushed the Denver Nuggets to a 108-107 victory.

Millsap has taken some unfounded heat early in the season for his offensive performance.  Of particular concern was his 12% shooting from three.  The concern overlooks the import  Millsap  has had to the resurgent Nuggets defense.

He is the anchor of that unit, he gets charged with covering the best opposing players and he’s come through big for his team.  Watching teammates embrace Millsap after his game winning tip is the best moment in this young season.

Speaking of his offensive output, Millsap poured in 19 points on 61.5% shooting, he was 1-for-2 from deep, pulled six rebounds had three monumental blocks and was second only to Jamal Murray‘s +9 plus/minus rating with a +7.  I would venture that any team would take that production from their power forward.  For the Nuggets, Millsap contributing this effectively on the offensive end is gravy.

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On Wednesday night, it was medicine for an ailing Nuggets offense.  This is the point that many Nuggets fans are missing, this Nuggets team is designed to be team-first.  We hear that a lot in sports but Michael Malone is pushing a legitimate version of the cliché.

On any given night, the Nuggets can confidently look to Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton (healthy, of course), Isaiah Thomas (also healthy), Monte Morris and yes, Paul Millsap as clutch performers.  Many teams have one or two alphas and then a slew of complimentary players.  Sometimes it works (San Antonio), sometimes it does not (Washington).  What is certain to work is not having to rely on the hot hand of one player to carry the team through.

Chicago tested a little piece of that mentality, sending the streaking Antonio Blakeney to the free throw line to convert a Millsap technical foul.  Blakeney came in a 57% free-throw shooter but Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg chose to ride the hot hand in that moment.  Blakeney missed the gimme but the logic was still sound.

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On Wednesday night, it was Paul Millsap’s turn in the barrel and he came through with flying colors.  Honorable mention to Jokic who despite what seemed a down game, hit for 22/12/9.

Denver travels to Cleveland for a back-to-back matchup with the Cavaliers. It will be fun to see who steps up tonight, it honestly could be anybody.