Nikola Jokic didn’t have much help on Wednesday night.
In fact, he had just six teammates by his side.
Yet thanks to a historic triple-double, and a clutch step-back bucket in the final minute, Jokic led the Denver Nuggets to a 98-95 win against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
“Nobody would think that we could win it,” Jokic said. “The whole pressure was on them today. We had seven healthy bodies. Everybody stepped up. Everybody was there. We just didn’t want to quit. We didn’t want an excuse tomorrow … We just went out there and try our best.”
The Jazz led during most of the contest on Wednesday, and even built up a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter. That, though, is where their offense went stagnant.
Utah scored just five points in the final six minutes of the third quarter, letting Denver right back in the game. Then, with just one minute left in the contest, Jokic drilled a perfectly executed step-back jumper to put the Nuggets back in the lead.
Then thanks to a pair of Gary Harris free throws, the Nuggets sealed the deal to grab the three-point win, their sixth in their last eight.
“We are an unbelievably resilient group that believes in one another and never doubts ourselves,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, via the Denver Post. “We hadn’t won here in nine games. To come in here and have seven guys go out there, and all seven guys, we don’t win the game without the plays that each one of them made. I’ve said it a lot recently, but this is our new best win of the year.”
Jokic finished the night with 30 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists. He’s now just the ninth player in league history to post a 30-20-10 stat line. Jamal Murray finished the night with 31 points for the Nuggets, shooting 12-of-26 from the field. Monte Morris added 15 points.
Mike Conley led the Jazz with 21 points and eight rebounds, shooting 5-of-9 from behind the arc. Donovan Mitchell added 18 points, and Rudy Gobert finished with a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
The Nuggets were extremely short-handed on Wednesday night, as Will Barton sat out due to inflammation in his right knee and Jerami Grant was still out after rolling his ankle on Tuesday night. Michael Porter Jr. is still out with an ankle injury, Paul Millsap with a knee injury and Mason Plumlee with a foot injury.
Denver traded Juancho Hernangomez and Malik Beasley to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a massive four-team, 12-man trade on Tuesday, too.
“I’ve never been a part of a game where you could potentially only have seven guys suiting up,” Malone said before the game, via the Denver Post. “It got to the point today, I even looked up the rules in a staff meeting to see what happens if you’re down to five guys and a player fouls out. How does the NBA handle that?”
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