The Denver Nuggets struggled in a variety of ways on Tuesday. They shot only 42.6 percent from the field. They were outrebounded by the Portland Trail Blazers, 47-40. They allowed Carmelo Anthony to score 16 points in a single quarter. But it didn't matter. Why? Because the Nuggets were nearly flawless in one very important part of the game. They committed only one turnover all night, setting an NBA record for the fewest ever in a game.
The previous record of two turnovers was shared by five teams, including the Phoenix Suns this season, as they recorded only two turnovers in a game against the Indiana Pacers. The Suns commit the fourth-fewest turnovers per game in the NBA, so their record-tying performance makes sense. The Nuggets are 10th, which makes this showing something of an outlier. However, it should be noted that all five two-turnover games in NBA history took place in 2006 or later. The modern NBA is simply less turnover-prone thanks to a variety of rule changes geared towards helping offenses.
The Nuggets racked up 25 assists in the win. That's not a particularly impressive number in a vacuum, and is in fact below their 26.7 assists per game average on the season. But with only one turnover, the Nuggets had a 25-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. That is also the best mark in NBA history.
The win moves Denver to 17-14 on the season, and coupled with Portland's loss, the Nuggets are now within a game of the Blazers in the standings. Portland currently occupies the sixth and final guaranteed playoff spot in the Western Conference, so gaining that ground is essential. It may have taken a record-breaking performance to get the win, but the Nuggets are now positioning themselves to fight their way back into the top six.