Magic Nuggets Basketball

Denver Nuggets guard Bryn Forbes reacts after hitting a basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, in Denver. Coloradans bet more on basketball in January than football, setting a record of more than $573 million in sports betting. 

DENVER - Bryn Forbes and the Nuggets bench built a big enough lead early for Denver to hold off the Orlando Magic, 121-111, on Monday at Ball Arena.

After leading by 22 early in the second quarter, the Nuggets let the Magic back in the game behind 23 turnovers which led to 29 of Orlando’s points. Denver also gave up 71 points in the second half.

“Some of them were just so careless. Just a complete lack of any valuing of the basketball,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

“I’m just thankful the game is over and nobody got hurt – and we won. Honestly, there was nothing to be gained from that game. We didn’t create any good habits.”

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 26 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists. Jeff Green and Will Barton III scored 17 apiece. Bryn Forbes led the bench with 16 points on seven shots, including a 3-for-4 mark from 3. DeMarcus Cousins added nine points and five rebounds, while JaMychal Green scored seven points and grabbed as many rebounds. The bench bigs combined for just one assist but freed up Forbes for a couple of shots with sturdy screens.

“I’m very grateful for those two. You know, big bodies that want to hit people and get me open,” Forbes said.

“A lot of made shots, they should get a lot of the credit. They do a lot of work to get me open and other guys open.”

When told of Forbes’ appreciation, Cousins responded “he better be.” Cousins said he’s put an emphasis on making things easier for the guards, and screening for a shooter like Forbes is a good start.

“Bryn’s a great shooter,” Cousins said. “We got guys that can make shots in that second unit, so I just try to make their job a little bit more easy. When their job becomes easy, it makes our job easy. We set good screens and guys are going to react.”

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Rookie Franz Wagner led the Magic with 26 points, while Wendell Carter Jr. added 25 points and 12 rebounds for Orlando.

The Nuggets held the Magic to 23.8% from the field in the first quarter and led 29-14 to start the second quarter. The bench stretched the lead to 22 early in the second.

“I think we’re starting to figure out how to move it, how to play with each other,” Forbes said of the second unit.

Orlando used a stretch of turnovers and fast-break offense to close within 13 at halftime. The Nuggets finished the first half eight assists and 12 turnovers.

“That’s not who we are,” Malone said. “Eight assists? And no disrespect to the Orlando Magic, but we’re not talking about the steel curtain over there.”

Forbes hit a floater just before the third-quarter buzzer to give the Nuggets a 15-point advantage to start the fourth. Cousins rolled for a powerful dunk early in the third before Forbes got the lead back up 19 with his third 3-pointer.

“A big momentum shift,” Forbes said of the dunk. “I think that’s what he can bring with his passion and some big plays.”

The Nuggets are scheduled to play their final game before the All-Star break Wednesday at Golden State.