Nuggets coach Malone says Jokic should not be penalised in MVP race for winning past two

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Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone believes Nikola Jokic should not be penalised in the MVP race for winning the past two after recording yet another triple-double on Sunday.

Jokic scored 30 points with 12 rebounds and 12 assists in the Nuggets' 123-111 win over the Boston Celtics, going down as his ninth triple-double across 32 games this season.

The reigning back-to-back MVP is on a quest to claim the first MVP three-peat since Larry Bird (1984-86), posting career-highs in assists per game (9.5) and true shooting percentage (68.6).

Jokic also sits 18th in the NBA for points per game (25.7), seventh for rebounds per game (10.9) and third for assists (9.5) per game.

"If people's reasons for not giving him the MVP is because he's won two in a row, that's lazy," Malone told reporters.

On his post-game team talk, Malone added: "I said 'oh by the way, Nikola got his 90th career triple-double, big deal'. Guys were cracking up because we're all becoming so accustomed to it.

"I promised myself I will never take Nikola and his greatness for granted. He is a phenomenal player, plays the game the right way and makes everybody around him better. What a joy to coach."

Nuggets guard Bruce Brown, who scored 21 points including making four-of-six three-point attempts, backed up Jokic's MVP credentials.

"He's my MVP. He should be the league's MVP three times in a row," Brown said. "He's doing everything for us. Without Jok, I don't know where we'd be."

Malone hailed his side's defense against the 26-11 Celtics, who have the best offense in the league.

Boston's own MVP candidate Jayson Tatum was restricted to 25 points, shooting seven-of-16 from the field and failing to make any of his four three-point attempts.

"Jayson Tatum is an All-MVP player and he's going to be an all-MVP finalist," Malone said "I thought Aaron Gordon and the rest of our guys, aside from putting him on the foul line, I thought we did a really good job of guarding Jayson Tatum."

The game was halted for approximately 35 minutes in the fourth quarter after Robert Williams III's dunk caused the rim to be bent.

Six workers attempted to re-level the rim, which was eventually taken off the backboard, with Malone worried the delay would impact the Nuggets' momentum leading by 18 points, while Celtics guard Jaylen Brown was not impressed by the time it took.

"There was no communication," Brown said. "They spent all that time trying to fix it but when we came back it still looked like it wasn't even level, in my opinion, so we just wasted all that time.

"That has an effect on the game. That's how injuries and stuff happen. Luckily that didn't [happen], but that wasn't good. That whole process was handled poorly, in my opinion, and that had an effect as well. But luckily nobody got hurt."