Michael Malone Likes the Energy, as Unbeaten Nuggets Silence Thunder

It’s a new season, but the defending champion Nuggets look as good as ever.Nikola Jokic looks to pass vs. Chet Holmgren

Maybe better.

That could be seen on Sunday, when Denver went on the road and offered a near-perfect performance in walloping the Thunder by a 128-95 count. It probably wasn’t even that close.

“Winning a championship, the one thing you worry about is thinking we can just show up this year and we’re going to win,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters. “And that’s not the case. This is a brand new season. What we did last year, although magical in nature, has nothing to do with this season. And I think our players, the way they’re playing — it’s very early — but after three games, our guys are playing with the requisite mindset that you need to if you’re going to be a team that can try to win another championship.”

The Nuggets not only held Oklahoma City to 40 percent shooting, but suffocated All-NBA guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to 2-of-16 from the field.

“You’ve got to credit guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who I think is an all-NBA defender,” Malone said. “You know, we asked him to guard the best players 82 regular season games and 20 playoff games last year and he’s totally committed to that. He understands that that’s his greatest gift to this basketball team.”

That Nikola Jokic guy isn’t bad, either. He recorded yet another double-double with 28 points and 14 rebounds, scoring 21 in the first half. Michael Porter Jr. added 19 points and Jamal Murray had 19.

Until Sunday, OKC had looked pretty doggone good, winning the first two games on the road. Meanwhile, the Nuggets (3-0) just keep winning, regardless of location.

“We know that we have to be a team that can travel, beat the best teams in the NBA on the road,” Malone said. “And to do that, you have to bring the defense. And I felt our defense tonight was outstanding across the board.”

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