The Knicks hosted the reigning champion Nuggets and made them look lottery-bound behind a balanced attack and stifling defense.

Despite two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic having an impressive 30-point double-double in a standout individual performance, the Denver Nuggets could have had two Nikola Jokics running on the court and it still would not have been enough to beat the New York Knicks on Thursday night.

New York (28-18) dominated Denver (31-15) from start to finish, demolishing the reigning NBA champ, 122-84. The Knicks pounced on the Nuggets to start, using an early 20-5 run in the first quarter to pull away and set the tone early. New York only raised the intensity on both ends of the court from there, never giving Denver a chance to settle down or fight back into the game.

The Knicks pushed their lead into the 20s going into the break, taking a 62-41 halftime lead and they didn’t slow down in the second half, continuing to pour it on the Nuggets in a complete team-wide effort.

New York outscored Denver by 11 points in the third quarter, which helped the Knicks push their lead into the 30s. The Knicks pulled their starters with more than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, and the reserves kept up the beatdown until the final buzzer.

O.G. Anunoby led the way with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, with two rebounds and six steals. Jalen Brunson was right behind with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, with four assists. Julius Randle chipped in 17 points, seven boards, eight assists, and a steal. Donte DiVincenzo had 16 points, including his 3,000th of his career. He also drained four 3-pointers and dished out six assists.

Off the bench, Quentin Grimes had 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Miles McBride added 12 points and went a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc.

For Denver, Jokic finished with a 31-point, 11-rebound double-double. He shot 13-of-18 on the floor and dished out three assists. Aaron Gordon had 12 points and was the only other Denver player to score in double figures.

Complete domination over Denver

There was little doubt and plenty to cheer for right from the onset. It was also such a team-wide effort. Sure, players like Anunoby and Brunson led the charge, but everyone chipped in from the starting five to the reserves on the bench.

All 11 players who checked in for the Knicks, even the reserves at the end of the bench, recorded a positive plus/minus rating. They held the Nuggets to a season-low 84 points. Randle had an all-around game which included 17 points, seven boards and eight assists. DiVincenzo knocked down four 3-pointers and got his 3,000th career point, while also dishing out six assists with no turnovers.

The bench combined for 42 points. McBride and Grimes accounted for 32 of those points, but players like Precious Achiuwa and Josh Hart were important in the energy they provided, especially on the glass. Achiuwa racked up 10 rebounds, including six offensive boards, and finished with a bench-high plus/minus rating of +18.

Anunoby, Brunson bolster award candidacy

What else do these two have to do to command more respect among NBA fans, media, and awards candidacy conversations?

Anunoby added more game tape to his arsenal, as he contends for NBA Defensive Player of the Year and First Team NBA All-Defense honors. While he impressed on the scoring end and finished with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, his defensive energy was just as vital in the lopsided win.

He helped put the clamps on Denver’s Jamal Murray, limiting him to just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting. Anunoby had a game-high six steals with a plus/minus rating of +38. As for Brunson, he responded well after being snubbed in the recently released NBA Eastern Conference All-Stars starting lineup.

Despite an impressive first season with the Knicks last year, Brunson was snubbed in the all-star selection process. He didn’t get on as a starter or reserve. There’s still some hope for Brunson to get his first NBA All-Star nod this season, if coaches vote him in. He enjoyed another solid outing, scoring 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting on the reigning NBA champ, with four assists.

Next up, the Knicks look to take their momentum into a home stand against the hated Miami Heat, fresh off their trade for Scary Terry Rozier. Tip-off is at 3:00 pm ET.

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