Jamal Murray had a nice game for the Nuggets, leading the team in scoring with 23 points on 12 shots, showing out in his first game back. Jokic finished with zero points, missing both his free throws and his only field goal attempt, a frustrating game as the team is set to begin playing games that matter.
The Magic were lead in scoring by forward Gary Clark, who had 17 points, including going 4 for 8 on 3-point attempts. The Magic went 18 for 37 on their 3-point attempts, knocking in jumpers every time the Nuggets were trying to cut the lead down below double digits.
The Nuggets didn’t play particularly well for consistent stretches of time, and were done in by a 19-0 run by the Magic in the second quarter.
The Nuggets started with Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap, and Nikola Jokic, the first time they were able to use that lineup in Orlando. They struggled with turnovers to start the game, showing some rust after having four months off. Barton was happy to be back on the court, getting a bunch of shots off early for the team, although he misfired on most of those shots. Jerami Grant had a nice two-handed block on a shot by James Ennis III, swatting the ball out of bounds on the baseline.
Michael Porter Jr. checked into the game at the 5:00 mark, getting some run with the remainer of the starters minus Grant. The young rookie made an immediate impact, knocking down a jumper, then grabbing an offensive rebound and dunking with two hands. After a timeout, more of the bench rotation came into the game, with Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig checking into the game. Nuggets exhibition legend Bol Bol joined the team a minute later, completing the Unicorn Squad with MPJ for the first time. The Magic were able to go on a Jonathan Isaac-powered run, stretching the lead up to 29-19 at the end of the first quarter.
The Magic made their first two shots of the quarter, then Porter Jr. fouled Isaac on a 3-point attempt, with the forward making his free throw to boot. MPJ followed it up with an offensive rebound and dunk, but Markelle Fultz knocked in a triple to stretch the run to 22-2. Malone put the starters back in to try to help quell the onslaught, and the team started taking better shots with improved defense. Millsap had a really strong baseline drive for a bucket, then followed it up with a strong cut and finish at the rim.
Jerami Grant was able to make it three straight layups for the Nuggets, cutting the Magic lead to 12 points. After a block by MPJ, Murray hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to just seven points. They had rallied to within seven points with a minute left, but things unraveled quickly to close out the half. MPJ turned the ball over traveling, and Orlando hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help stretch the lead back into double digits. MPJ goaltended a shot…