Bridges thrives as Nets upset Nuggets despite Jokic triple-double, Murphy explodes for 41 in Pelicans win
Mikal Bridges' incredible start to his career as a Brooklyn Net continued on Sunday as he led his team to a 122-120 road upset against the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets despite Nikola Jokic's massive triple-double.
Bridges, 26, arrived from Phoenix as the central piece heading to Brooklyn in the Kevin Durant trade, and he has lived up to even the most lofty expectations about what he could produce as the focal point of an offense.
Playing in a supporting role during his time with the Suns, Bridges was averaging a career-high 17.2 points per game this season. It is the fifth season in a row he has improved his points per game, all with career shooting splits of 49.9 per cent from the field, 37.6 per cent from deep and 85.2 per cent from the free throw line.
In his 12 games since joining the Nets, Bridges has shown he is indeed capable of filling a featured role, averaging 25.8 points while maintaining elite efficiency at 51.4 per cent from the field, 49.2 per cent from deep and 90 per cent at the line.
Against the Nuggets, Bridges again led his team in scoring with 25 points on seven-of-16 shooting, while fellow trade deadline acquisition Spencer Dinwiddie posted a career-high 16 assists to go with his 15 points (five-of-15) and six rebounds.
After starting the season a perfect 25-0 in games when reigning back-to-back MVP Jokic has tallied a triple-double, Denver have now dropped two in a row, with his 35 points (14-of-23), 20 rebounds and 11 assists proving not enough to make up for Jamal Murray's ice-cold five-of-19 shooting night.
The Nets have now won five of their past six to improve to 39-29, sitting 3.5 games clear of the play-in tournament placings, while the 46-22 Nuggets are still five games clear atop the West.
Murphy's big night carries the Pelicans
Second-year wing Trey Murphy III dropped a career-high 41 points as the New Orleans Pelicans defended their home court 127-110 against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers.
With Damian Lillard out of action for Portland, they did not have a single player exceed 17 points, while Murphy caught fire.
The 22-year-old hit 13-of-20 shots and nine-of-14 three-pointers, eclipsing his previous high score by nine points as he reached the 30-point mark for the third time.
Much like Bridges, Murphy has excelled when given an expanded opportunity, providing a silver lining to the absences of Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.
Embiid too big, too strong for the Wizards
Philadelphia 76ers MVP candidate Joel Embiid was once again the most dominant player on the floor during Sunday's 112-93 manhandling of the Washington Wizards.
Embiid, who leads the race for the scoring title at 33.4 points per game, raised his average ever so slightly with 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting, adding eight rebounds, four assists, four blocks and a steal.
James Harden, who is leading the league in assists at 10.8 per game, made his center's life easier with another 14 dimes to go with 18 points (six-of-11).
The win is the 76ers' fifth in a row, and they are now only 1.5 games behind the Boston Celtics (47-21) as they both try to chase down the conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks (48-19).