Nuggets dismantle Knicks in blowout home victory

The Nuggets put on a historic scoring clinic in a Tuesday night blowout victory over the New York Knicks.

Denver cruised to a 132-115 win at Ball Arena with six players scoring in double-figures. The team tied a franchise record with 83 points in the first half. The Nuggets (30-24) closed their latest homestand at 2-1 and travel to face the Boston Celtics on Friday.

The Nuggets pulled away Tuesday thanks to arguably their best bench performance of the season with a 61-34 scoring advantage over the New York reserves. JaMychal Green (20 points), Bones Hyland (22 points) and Zeke Nnaji (11 points) were especially productive.

“Overall, it was great. I felt that (second) unit came into the game in that first quarter and really ignited us,” coach Michael Malone said. “We closed the first quarter on a 9-0 run and that carried over to the second. We kind of built a lead with that group. … Just a lot of good productivity and energy from those guys.”

The Knicks trailed by as many as 27 points before mounting a late comeback. They outscored the Nuggets 34-28 in the third quarter behind the strong play of Julius Randle (28 points). But Denver stiffened up its defense in the final quarter to seal the win. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic closed the game with several clutch buckets to finish with 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

The night began with a scoring frenzy. The Nuggets and Knicks combined for 76 points in the first quarter alone. Denver led by four despite allowing New York to shoot 56% from the floor. But the Nuggets turned up the defensive heat in the second quarter with a 20-8 run to establish a double-digit advantage.

The key? Denver’s bench outscored the Knicks’ reserves by a plus-24 margin after two quarters.

The Nuggets led 83-60 entering the break. One first-half highlight: Hyland brought the Ball Arena crowd to its feet with a stepback 3-pointer that sent New York’s Kemba Walker to the ground. Hyland stared Walker down, cashed the deep jumper, and then Hyland pointed at Walker as he got back on defense.

Hyland has supplanted Facu Campazzo as the team’s second-string point guard despite an often steep NBA learning curve for the first-round draft pick. He added six rebounds to his team-high 22 points.

“You know that with a young player there were going to be highs and lows. Those are expected and we welcome it. That’s part of maturation and development,” Malone said. “What I love about him is that he had six rebounds and some of those rebounds are in traffic. He’s not afraid to mix it up. … He’s a joy to be around and he is getting better.”

Reserve guard Austin Rivers did not play on Tuesday with a hip injury.

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