May 19, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Nikola Jokic scores 40 goals and puts the Nuggets up 3-2 against the Wolves

Nikola Jokic scores 40 goals and puts the Nuggets up 3-2 against the Wolves

DENVER — Nikola Jokic received his third Most Valuable Player award from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, then celebrated by dominating Rudy Gobert and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Denver Nuggets star exploded for 40 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds and no turnovers to lead Denver to a 112-97 win on Tuesday night in Game 5 at a raucous Ball Arena.

Denver now leads 3-2 in the Western Conference semifinal series and can advance to the conference finals with a Game 6 win Thursday in Minneapolis.

“I didn’t see any weaknesses [in our defense]”I’ve seen the best player. He’s proven he’s the best player,” Minnesota star guard Anthony Edwards said.

Even by Jokic’s impressive MVP standards, the center put on a clinic against Gobert, the four-time Defensive Player of the Year and the best defenseman in the NBA this season. Jokic converted 15 of 22 shots but was 8 of 9 when Gobert was his primary defender.

“Unbelievable,” said Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon, who scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and provided 5 assists. “He played amazing. The three-time MVP controlled the entire game, every aspect of it. Amazing. It was ridiculous.”

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The NBA Finals MVP hit Gobert and the Wolves with a dizzying array of turnovers, hook shots, 3-pointers (two of them) and even some rare dunks in transition.

“I mean, I had the open lane and just — I’m a freak of nature,” Jokic deadpanned from his shots. “Why shouldn’t I show my sportsmanship?”

Jokic’s night was so good that his opponents couldn’t do anything but laugh. His last three-pointers were isolated at the top of the arc against Gobert. Jokic drilled a backflip with Gobert covering him with 3:09 left in the contest. All Gobert could do was raise his arm high in the air for the challenge. When the Wolves called the 14-minute timeout, Gobert’s arm sank as if all the air had been squeezed out of it.

“I’m just laughing,” Edwards said in response to Jokic’s performance. “That’s all I can do. I can’t get mad, because he’s good, man. I think I said that after Game 1, when we won, and Game 2. He’s the best player. He’s the best player in the NBA; he is. He showed it in the three games.” “The last three games in a row, he did it tonight.”

“He was special tonight,” added Edwards, who raised his tally to 18 points with nine assists. “I should give him his flowers. I don’t know what we were supposed to do.”

Since Jokic was named the MVP of the season last Wednesday, the Nuggets have won three straight games to take control of the series. In the three wins, Jokic averaged 33 points, 9.7 assists and 9.3 rebounds and shot 61% from the field.

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“Nikola was named MVP after the Game 2 loss,” Denver coach Michael Malone said of the Nuggets’ embarrassing 106-80 loss to the Wolves on May 6. “And I think in the last three games he showed everyone why he is one of the best players.” “One of the best players to ever play this game.”

Tuesday’s game was Jokic’s fifth 40-point game of his playoff career, but the first time he has won by scoring 40 or more points. He joins Chris Paul as the only players with 40 points, 10 assists and zero turnovers in a playoff game since individual turnovers were first tracked in 1977-78, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

Although Jokic was named MVP last week, he did not receive the Michael Jordan Silver Trophy until Tuesday night.

Jokic scored 19 points and 8 assists in the first half. But in the third quarter, it was surgical. He made 6 of 7 shots and scored 16 points. Gobert and the Wolves were helpless as Jokic scored 36-21 in the third period to turn a one-point deficit into a 14-point lead.

Jokic buried and hit hook shots and seemed to have a counter for everything Gobert tried to use to slow him down.

“When it starts and that one-legged, one-armed idiot throws it behind the backboard [shot]just me [heading] “He’s back on defense,” said Denver guard Jamal Murray, who scored 16 points. “It’s amazing how he separates and reads the game and trusts his teammates.” Obviously getting the cup tonight probably motivated him a little bit.”

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Jokic said he’s just hoping to get one more rebound than Gobert when the two face off. But Malone said there is another level to Jokic’s genius.

“His IQ is off the charts. He probably belongs to Mensa.” [International]”He probably doesn’t even know what Mensa is,” Malone said of the High IQ organization.

Jokic will remember this night, especially how it started, as he received the MVP award in front of an angry crowd.

“I think the love of the fans is what you can feel in your teammates and coaches,” Jokic said. “I think it’s just a moment that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”