Nikola Jokic, Nuggets Destroy Knicks 129-92 amid David Fizdale Job Rumors

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2019

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 5: Malik Beasley #25 of the Denver Nuggets shoots the ball against the New York Knicks on December 5, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Denver Nuggets beat the New York Knicks 129-92 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden to kick off their four-game road trip.

The victory puts the Nuggets (14-5) within a half-game of the Los Angeles Clippers for the second seed in the Western Conference.

The Knicks, meanwhile, sink further into last place in the Eastern Conference at 4-18.

SNY's Ian Begley reported Tuesday head coach David Fizdale could be out the door soon as the Knicks were still dealing with the fallout from their 44-point defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks to start the week. Fizdale's job security won't improve as New York's losing streak increases to eight games.


Notable Performers

  • Jamal Murray, PG, Nuggets: 14 points, three rebounds, four assists
  • Will Barton, SG, Nuggets: 17 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal
  • Nikola Jokic, C, Nuggets: six points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, one block
  • Marcus Morris Sr., SF, Knicks: 10 points, two rebounds, two assists
  • Mitchell Robinson, C, Knicks: 17 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, three blocks
  • R.J. Barrett, SF, Knicks: nine points, three rebounds, five assists, three steals, one block


Nuggets Three-Point Barrage Sinks Knicks

Three-point shooting hasn't been a strength for the Nuggets, but you wouldn't have guessed that by Thursday's win.

Denver entered the night sitting 25th in made threes (10.2 per game) and 27th in three-point percentage (29.5). The Knicks are a great remedy for an ailing offense as the Nuggets were 21-of-38 shooting from beyond the arc.

Denver Nuggets @nuggets

Our shot chart from deep: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/Vf1hi77JQj

Chris Dempsey @chrisadempsey

Well, this is a 3-point story, plain and simple. The #Nuggets have hit a season-high 19, and have outscored the Knicks 57-27 from the arc.

New York made life easy for Denver on the perimeter by routinely leaving shooters open.

Mike Vorkunov @MikeVorkunov

The reverse of the trolley problem is the Nuggets picking which open 3 they want against the Knicks tonight

Tommy Beer @TommyBeer

Knicks defending the 3 well. Closing out on shooters. Beating Denver... Just kidding. Denver up 20. Nuggets 11-of-18 from 3-point territory. Many of them embarrassingly wide open

Unfortunately for the Nuggets, they can't play the Knicks in every game. But confidence can have a big impact when it comes to shooting. While nobody expects Denver to maintain this pace, an outburst like this could help the team rediscover its long-range touch.

In another encouraging sign, Nikola Jokic looked more like his usual self.

Jokic's numbers are down basically across the board from last year, and he was largely anonymous in the team's last two losses. The All-Star center didn't pour in a high volume of points against the Knicks but found ways to hurt New York inside.

Denver Nuggets @nuggets

Pass on target, shot on target. 🎯 #MileHighBasketball https://t.co/TryTQeFh1D

Nick Kosmider @NickKosmider

Jokic is back to dicing up a defense by turning deep paint touches into on-target kickouts. He has three assists on Denver's last four possessions -- six total -- and the lead has ballooned to 58-38. Knicks have scored just 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting in the second quarter.

If anything, the Nuggets will be happy Jokic never needed to overexert himself in the first half of a back-to-back.


Knicks Still Waiting to Hit Rock Bottom

The good news for the Knicks is they lost by fewer points compared to their last game. The bad news is basically everything else.

New York was competitive through the first quarter, trailing 33-27 after the opening 12 minutes. A Kevin Knox three-pointer brought the Knicks to within a point, 38-37, with 7:49 left in the first half. The Nuggets then went on a 23-1 run to break the game open.

Firing Fizdale would be unfair to the coach to some extent because he isn't responsible for putting this flawed roster together. At the same time, a coaching change is the only real hope the team has to make things marginally better.

Knicks Videos @sny_knicks

Knicks down over 20 points at halftime again https://t.co/gIFaelEgYH

Evan Roberts @EvanRobertsWFAN

Maybe tonight is Fizdale’s farewell

John Schmeelk @Schmeelk

Knicks have better put a good effort forward in the second half tonight and not completely embarrass themselves. Every game like that, especially at home, heats up the coach's seat. Gotta at least compete.

In addition, it doesn't speak well to Fizdale's impact that the Knicks could get blown out by the Bucks and turn right around and put in a similar level of effort in their next game.

Sometimes the players will respond when they know they have an embattled coach. That isn't happening in New York.

Michael Salfino @MichaelSalfino

Fizdale has to be fired now, let’s get real.

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

The coaching change, to be clear, feels inevitable now. The Knicks aren't even mustering a passable effort. But as ever you wonder, after 20 years of this, what will make James Dolan look at himself

Once team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry held a press conference to address the Knicks' slow start, Fizdale was probably on borrowed time. Now, he might be lucky to finish out the week.


What's Next?

The Nuggets don't have much time to recover before they're back on the court Friday against the Boston Celtics. The Knicks host the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.