Aaron Gordon was needed for just 21 minutes Sunday in his Denver Nuggets debut. In those 21 minutes, the new-look Nuggets showed how potent they can be.
Gordon, acquired from the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline Thursday, scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting as the Nuggets rolled to a 126-102 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Denver shot 54.3% from the field and 41.7% from 3-point range (15-of-36) and had six players score in double figures.
Atlanta led by four after the first quarter. Denver dominated the rest of the way to win for the 11th time in the last 14 games and improve to 28-18.
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The Nuggets’ offense was clicking in their big win tonight 🔥 pic.twitter.com/deMKTHA11H
"I see no limits for this team," Gordon said. "It looks like we have all the pieces for this team, we have depth. We're covered in a lot of different spots. As long as we're working together there's no stopping us."
Gordon slid into the starting lineup at power forward next to Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton. Gordon scored 11 points in the first half, including seven in the second quarter as the Nuggets shook of a sluggish start to take a 10-point lead into the break.
Denver took control in the third quarter, and Gordon was able to watch the entire fourth from the bench
“It’s the real deal here… I’m going to give it everything that I’ve got.”@Double0AG speaks after his Nuggets debut! #MileHighBasketballpic.twitter.com/axhPM69gly
With Gordon on the floor, the Nuggets had an offensive rating of 139 and a defensive rating of 95.2. It's a small sample size of course, but for comparison's sake, the Brooklyn Nets lead the NBA in offensive rating this season at 117.4. The Los Angeles Lakers have the best defensive rating at 105.8 (a lower defensive rating is better).
"There's not a lot of guys that can do what Aaron Gordon does," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "What Aaron brings to the table is that defensive versatility. … That's the way the league is going, positional versatility on both ends of the floor."
The Nuggets acquired Gordon to bolster their frontcourt for the stretch run and playoffs. After reaching the Western Conference finals last season, Denver has designs on breaking through to the NBA Finals. The returns after one game with their revamped roster are very encouraging.
"He knows why he came here. He knows what he can do. He knows how he can help and he's doing that," Jokic said. "He's embraced it. He saw how we play. If he's open the ball's going to find him."
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