Nikola Jokic creates new statistical club as Denver Nuggets clinch playoff berth

DENVER — Nikola Jokic made historical past on the evening his Denver Nuggets clinched a fourth consecutive playoff berth with a 122-109 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Jokic grew to become the primary participant in NBA historical past with 2,000 factors, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a season. He had 35 factors, 16 rebounds, six assists and 5 steals Thursday evening.

“Dude is absolutely nice at basketball,” teammate Bones Hyland stated.

Jokic’s massive evening got here after taking an inadvertent elbow from Jaren Jackson Jr. to the appropriate brow and temple that drew blood within the opening minute.

After having to retreat to the bench twice to cease the bleeding, Jokic donned a pink headband for the rest of the sport as he helped the Nuggets (48-33) overcome a shaky begin to keep away from a season sweep by the hands of the Grizzlies.

“The MVP is not even a contest,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone declared afterward. “There’s different nice gamers. I’m not saying they are not nice gamers. But what Nikola Jokic has completed this 12 months – with this crew – the whole lot we have needed to undergo, is simply unbelievable.

“He was good final 12 months and he is even higher this 12 months.”

Despite lacking stars Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets clinched a top-six spot within the Western Conference playoffs and prevented the four-team play-in thanks to a different excellent efficiency from the reigning MVP.

They can nonetheless win the Northwest Division with a victory Sunday evening towards the Lakers and two losses by the Utah Jazz (48-32), who end up towards Phoenix and Portland. The victory additionally locked the Minnesota Timberwolves into the play-in.

Aaron Gordon added 22 factors for Denver and Desmond Bane had 14 factors for the Grizzlies, who have been coming off an extra time loss at Utah on Wednesday evening, have already captured the primary division title of their historical past together with securing the second seed within the West.

The Grizzlies are hopeful of getting All-Star guard Ja Morant again this weekend from a proper knee damage that has sidelined him since March 18.

Malone stated he was involved after seeing Jokic bloodied in such a pivotal recreation for Denver.

“My first thought was Steve Nash in that playoff sequence they usually could not cease the bleeding,” Malone stated. “And I’m saying, ‘Of all video games, Nikola will get a really non-malicious elbow, an inadvertent elbow to the top and he is bleeding.’

“I’m saying, ‘Not tonight.'”

Malone stated he implored his trainers to do no matter they might to staunch the movement of blood.

“Like, get a staple gun out right here,” Malone stated. “And it lastly stopped and Nikola placed on one other MVP efficiency.”

While making NBA historical past.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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