It wasn’t the heavyweight bout everyone anticipated when the Philadelphia 76ers traveled to take on the Denver Nuggets Monday night, as both Joel Embiid and James Harden were out with injuries. However, that didn’t stop Nikola Jokic from adding to the history books in Denver’s 116-111 win at home.
After putting up 25 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists, Jokic joined Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as the only other players in NBA history to total 10+ games in a season of at least 20 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. What’s even crazier about Jokic’s stat line from Monday night is he reached a triple-double before the fourth quarter even started. Jokic’s 10 games this season of a 20-15-10 stat line is also more than the rest of the league has combined (six).
After the game, when asked how he would assess his triple-double, Jokic, always a man of few words when discussing his performance, said with a shrug, “I think it was good; we won the game, so it was good.”
‘Good’ is certainly an understatement. Jokic put on a masterclass against the Sixers. Without Embiid in the lineup, Jokic scored with ease in the paint, and with no rim protector down low, he was able to feed guys cutting to the basket for highlight-reel finishes like this one that Bruce Brown threw down:
But the third quarter is where Jokic really showed why he’s the two-time reigning MVP, and a contender to win the award again this season. After a first half where the Serbian big man took a back seat in terms of scoring, Jokic rattled off 14 points in the third quarter to help stretch Denver’s lead up to 22 points. He took advantage of mismatches when smaller defenders like Tyrese Maxey or De’Anthony Melton tried their best to contain him under the basket.
He also showed the tiny bit of quickness he does possess to cut past a slacking PJ Tucker for this easy bucket.
Safe to say Tucker didn’t expect Jokic to get by him that quickly.
Though the Nuggets nearly squandered a 22-point lead at the end of the fourth quarter, Denver managed to pull out a win, improving their record to 51-24 on the season. For Jokic, it was just the latest performance to bolster his MVP case as he looks to be the first player since Larry Bird to win the award three consecutive years in a row.