NEW YORK – The Nuggets had a win at Madison Square Garden and a winning road trip squarely in their sights on Monday night. But burgeoning Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis had other ideas.
He led the charge as the Knicks outlasted the Nuggets 116-110, a game New York had to sweat out in the final minutes due to a hard-charging Denver team in order to secure. Porzingis led all scorers with 38 points, continuing a scoring binge in which he’s racked up at least 30 points in five out of the Knicks’ first six games.
To get the game back to within reach, the Nuggets had to rally from a 22-point halftime deficit and a 23-point deficit overall.
They did just that.
The third quarter followed a similar script to that of Sunday night, where the Nuggets hit Brooklyn with a 34-6 run before the Nets could get their bearings. In that game, the run extended a Nuggets lead. On Monday, the Nuggets sprinted out to a 30-6 run in the third, all of which was necessary to erase a big Knicks lead and get back into the game.
Defense led the way in the third, and Gary Harris got the Nuggets going in earnest by forcing back-to-back turnovers early on. One, a steal, he took coast-to-coast for a layup. The very next Knicks possession, he forced Tim Hardaway Jr. to step back over the half court line under intense pressure for an over-and-back call.
The rest of the Nuggets took it from there, picking up energy and forcing the Knicks into 12 turnovers and scoring 22 points off of them. In fact, points off of turnovers accounted for 57 percent of the Nuggets scoring in the period. They were back in the game and trailed by only three points going into the fourth. Harris added 10 points in the period to accompany his defense.
But early in the fourth, Tim Hardaway Jr. happened. The Nuggets had defended him well through three quarters, holding him to zero points on 0-of-5 shooting. But he found the range to start the fourth, quickly scoring 11 points, which helped the Knicks get a bit of cushion. The Nuggets cut the lead to two points at 104-102, but the Knicks were able to hold on for the victory.
The Nuggets were led by Jokić’s 28 points and eight rebounds. Jamal Murray finished with 20 points, and Harris had 18 points for the Nuggets who made 18 3-pointers in the game as well. The Nuggets finished their four-game road trip with a 2-2 record.
Christopher Dempsey: firstname.lastname@example.org and @chrisadempsey on Twitter