Denver Post NBA writer Nick Kosmider takes your questions and posts his Nuggets Mailbag during the NBA season.
8 p.m. Tuesday, ALT; 950 AM The Nuggets will face for the first time the center they drafted — through a trade with Chicago — with the No. 16 overall selection in the 2014 draft. Nurkic showed strong flashes during a rookie season in which he averaged 6.9 points and 6.2 rebounds, but knee surgery cut his second season with Denver in half, limiting him to 33 games. Nurkic entered this season as Denver’s starting center, but he was relegated to the bench once the Nuggets went to Nikola Jokic at the starting spot in the middle of December. That move put the wheels of a trade in motion, and Nurkic appears to have found his footing with the Trail Blazers, his new team. It’s hard to imagine Nurkic won’t be motivated to have a big game against the team that drafted him.
Spotlight on Jusuf Nurkic:
Nuggets: Denver has targeted improved bench scoring as a key priority in the final nine games of the season. The Nuggets jumped to a 24-15 lead against New Orleans on Sunday, but they scored only four points over the next nine-plus minutes with reserves on the floor. “Our bench came into the game and was awful,” coach Michael Malone said. The backup unit also struggled in Friday’s victory over Indiana. “We need Will Barton to create that offense,” Malone said. One positive for the Nuggets: Their reserves have outscored Portland’s 116-73 in three meetings this season. Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum has scored 30 or more points in 13 games this season, which is the number of 30-point games the guard had in the previous three years of his career. … Portland is 6-4 in its last 10 home games. The Trail Blazers are 19-10 against the Nuggets at the Moda Center since the 2002-03 season. … Damian Lillard is averaging 36.3 points and 7.7 assists in three games against the Nuggets this season, and he has scored at least 30 points in four of his last five games against Denver. … The Trail Blazers have limited Nuggets center Nikola Jokic to a total of 13 points and nine rebounds in the past two meetings of the teams this season. Nick Kosmider, The Denver Post »denverpost.com/ nuggets