Jokic posts triple-double as Nuggets beat Pelicans
Jokic has 12 triple-doubles this season and 117 overall, with the 10 against the Pelicans the most versus one one opponent. He also has scored 25 or more points in 14 straight games against New Orleans.
Denver rebounded from a loss to Utah on Wednesday night to snap New Orleans’ seven-game road winning streak. “We played a little bit faster, I think,” Jokic said. “We were the ones who were aggressive. We pushed the pace. I think that was the difference.”
Michael Porter had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets. Jamal Murray finished with 20 points and nine assists.
“They got off to an early start in this building,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “They had a 37-point first quarter to 25 (for New Orleans); now it’s an uphill battle the rest of the game. That’s something they do well. They get off to early starts and then they played with a lead. We’ve got to be better starting a game.”
Nance hit a 3-pointer that pulled New Orleans to 95-80, but Reggie Jackson connected on a 3-pointer and then a hook shot in the waning seconds of the third quarter, extending Denver’s lead to 100-80 going into the final quarter.
Down by 22 points early in the fourth, New Orleans fought back to 118-105 on Williamson’s dunk with 2:49 remaining. But Murray answered with a fadeaway jumper off a feed from Jokic and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer to put the game out of reach for the Pelicans.
Jokic delivered a highlight reel assist with a blind, behind-the-back and over-his-head alley-oop pass that Aaron Gordon caught at the rim and dunked home for Denver’s final points in the first half. CJ McCollum answered with a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer but New Orleans trailed 66-51 at the break. Malone said he’s seen Jokic make a lot of memorable plays in his nine years with the team but ranked his latest head-turning pass at or near the top.
“I didn’t imagine the behind-the-back, over-the-head pass,” Malone said. “When you’re a young kid watching NBA basketball, that’s Magic Johnson, that’s `Pistol’ Pete Maravich, the guys that just had this pizazz to their game. Nikola can beat you a lot of ways and that was definitely one of the best passes I’ve seen him make.”
Jokic said he saw Gordon open and just wanted to get the ball to him as quickly as possible. “I just saw him for a blink of an eye, and I just wanted to pass to him as soon as I can,” Jokic said. “Because he's open in that moment, not a moment after that. So, that was the quickest way to pass him the ball.”
Pelicans: At Dallas on Saturday night and Monday.
Nuggets: Host Indiana on Sunday.
___ AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba