The Nuggets and their fans have a sudden case of Boogie fever
Boogie Nights. Boogie Fever. Jungle Boogie. Boogie Oogie Oogie.
Cue up one of the Nuggets marketing department’s famous ’70s nights because the signing of DeMarcus Cousins has Denver on its feet dancing in a Boogie Wonderland. He’s our Boogie Man.
The Nuggets made DeMarcus Cousins a permanent roster addition this week after the second of his two 10-day contracts expired, and the move is already paying off. Denver is riding a season-high six-game win streak and is now 10-0 in the games Cousins plays. He’s brought the Boogie to the bench unit, and they’re playing better than they have all season.
Look no further than the last two wins over Sacramento and Portland for shining examples of what Cousins has brought to the Nuggets. It can be argued he had just as much of an impact on each game as MVP Nikola Jokic did, playing half the minutes.
After a scorching-hot first quarter on Saturday, Denver’s offense looked stuck in the mud through the second and third quarters. Jokic was in foul trouble against the Kings. Enter Boogie.
Trailing 85-83 in the final minute of the third, Bones Hyland launched a deep three that caromed off the rim only to be swallowed up and slammed home out of nowhere by Cousins to tie the game. To begin the fourth quarter, Cousins rolled through the paint and dunked home a feed from Austin Rivers to give the Nuggets the lead. And after a JaMychal Green three-pointer Cousins again got to the rim with a driving lay-up making it 92-85 Denver. He sparked the offense while Jokic was out, and the Nuggets regained control of the game before going on to win 115-110.
Sunday night in Portland, the Nuggets started slowly in their third game in three cities in four nights. The starters scored just four points in the first five minutes of the game and weren’t off to a great start. Enter Boogie.
He immediately knocked down a 27-foot three-pointer, pulled down a rebound and dropped a dime to JaMychal Green for a dunk. Cousins led the bench unit that scored 10 points in the final 2:20 of the opening quarter.
The Nuggets rode that momentum into the second quarter where Boogie made it clear that Denver was the varsity and they were going to beat up Portland’s JV lineup all night. He pushed around Drew Eubanks and an undersized Blazers team the rest of the game, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists in just 17 minutes. Cousins tied for a team-high +27 in a game where the Nuggets bench scored a season-high 76 points.
Cousins may not be the All-Star he once was in Sacramento, but so far he’s been exactly what the doctor ordered for the Nuggets. His 7.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game don’t tell the story of the impact he’s having on every game.
After years of battling injuries and not knowing if his body will hold up, Cousins is finally healthy and confident enough to trust his talent again and he’s provided several things the Nuggets were missing on that second unit. Physicality, rebounding, phenomenal passing from the center position and a gravity that they’ve never before had when Jokic is out of the game. There’s a physical and verbal intensity that escalates when Cousins enters the game, and his teammates and the Ball Arena crowds love it.
Cousins has also helped the rest of the bench shine. JaMychal Green is back to his more natural position at power forward and playing better than he has all year. Green is shooting 54 percent and averaging three more points per game since Cousins came on board. Bryn Forbes and Austin Rivers are making threes because of the attention Cousins is drawing and his ability to pass out to open shooters. He’s been instrumental in causing a ripple effect that has transformed the worst unit in the NBA in October and November into one of the top five scoring benches in basketball.
On top of all that, he’s taken some of the weight off of Jokic’s shoulders. Against Sacramento, Jokic had an 18-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist triple-double, but it never once felt like the Nuggets were going to win or lose the game based on if he could carry them to the finish line. In Portland, Jokic had an incredible 18 rebounds and 11 assists, but fell two points shy of another triple-double, only because he played just 20 minutes and didn’t have to score for Denver to win.
The Nuggets have now scored 115 points or more in 16 of their last 23 games. Playing through an excellent passing center in Cousins the same way the starters play through Jokic, is just making it easier for Denver’s offense as they enter the stretch run and the playoffs. Let’s Boogie all the way.