Nuggets win to get No. 2 seed in West, face winner of Pelicans-Lakers in Round 1 of playoffs

Bennett Durando, The Denver Post on

Published in Basketball

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As he so often does, Michael Malone captured the feeling of the entire Nuggets fanbase.

“I’m kind of all over the place right now,” he said at noon MT, while countless fans were surely talking themselves through all the NBA playoff scenarios one last time before Game 82.

Malone was acutely aware of the most likely outcome: That his team would be the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference when the dust settled, win or lose. But he was set on playing his starters anyway, on the off chance Denver could — at least — move up one spot.

“We’re trying to win a game,” he said.

The defending champions took care of business on their end, clobbering the injury-devastated Grizzlies 126-111 to end the 2023-24 regular season Sunday. And thanks to the Phoenix Suns’ win over the Timberwolves, Denver (57-25) will go into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the West, facing the winner of a play-in game between the Lakers and Pelicans.

With the bounce-back win after a nightmare in San Antonio, the Nuggets tied the franchise single-season wins record, equaling their 2012-13 season.


“We wanted to get a win, and we wanted to just be positive, have a positive mindset going into the playoffs,” Nikola Jokic said. “I think that’s important.”

“It’s still unfortunate we didn’t break the record,” Malone said. “We had a chance to.”

Six players scored in double figures by the end of the third quarter, led by Jamal Murray’s 21-point finale. Murray turned his ankle during the second frame but declined when Malone asked if he wanted a substitution. Denver’s entire starting lineup, including Murray, started the second half after getting a look at the other relevant scores around the West. The Lakers, Suns and Thunder all led by double digits.

“I think our whole staff was looking at their phones, to be honest,” Malone said.


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