Nikola Jokic is the true MVP of this league. If it weren’t for the Serb, be sure that the Denver Nuggets would have been just another team fighting for their place in the playoffs.
The Joker hit a game-winner against the Dallas Mavericks and brought a win to his Denver, 100-99, leaving them in the race for the tops spot in the Western Conference.
The Nuggets were behind during the majority of the game, and they couldn’t catch up with the nasty Mavs up until the last minutes of the match.
Dallas led by six at the halftime, 57-51, and kept that lead throughout the third quarter, extending it to ten at the end of that period.
But the Nuggets did something in the final period, which is very uncharacteristic for them. They started playing defense. One hell of a defense,
Mike Malone’s boys allowed only 10 points in the fourth, stopping the Mavs who were making a lot of problems to them on both ends of the floor.
Meanwhile, Jokic was 4/4 in those moments, and was pushing his team towards a comeback. He scored seven of Denver’s last nine points.
The last three minutes were very intense, and both sides played basket for basket. Doncic was scoring for the guests and the above-mentioned Serb for the home team.
With 5 seconds before the end, the Joker got the ball outside the three-point line, started to drive towards the basket, and leaned to his right, making an off-balance shot which eventually went in.
He finished the night with 11 points, 14 boards, and 8 assists. Paul Millsap had 33, game-high. Luka Doncic, on the other hand, was one dime short of a triple-double with 24 points, 11 boards, and 9 dimes. Jalen Brunson had 20 buckets.
The Nuggets (45-22) are now one game behind the Warriors (46-21) but with one very tough schedule. They have one more game at home before heading on the Eastern tour. This Saturday the Pacers are coming to town, and after that Denver plays with the Celtics, Wizards, Knicks and the Pacers again.
They will also have to play against the Rockets, OKC and the Warriors away from home until the end of the season. So the imperative thing for them will be to preserve their 2nd place.
The Mavs are waiting for the season to end and to start preparing for the next season. They will be entering the process of reconstruction even harder.
Up next, Doncic and the boys have two more games at home against Cavs and Pelicans.