Jokic Returns, Nuggets Clip Bucks 121 – 117
The Nuggets prevailed after Nikola Jokic showed no signs of slowing down.
Welcome back Nikola Jokic.
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The Nuggets had been without their star forward for the last three games due to a hip injury, but the Joker wasted no time reminding the Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the NBA just how great of a player he is.
The rising Serbian star notched his first triple-double in his young career, as the Nuggets hung on to a 121 – 117 home victory. With all the hype centered around Giannis Antetokounmpo heading into this exciting match-up, Jokic simply stole the show. Jokic ended the night with 20 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
John Henson was a pretty good match-up for the Joker, so this was a very impressive showing.
Jokic displayed every facet of his game, from his soft touch around the rim with his shooting and passing, to his strong hands on the boards.
It was a welcoming sight for the fans and his teammates.
Other players stepped up
On a night with no Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets needed other players to step up, and they got exactly that from Wilson Chandler, Jamal Murray and Kenneth Faried.
Murray ended the night with 18 points and his confidence and poise on the offensive end was on full display. Murray also was 7-7 from the charity stripe.
Wilson Chandler played practically the entire game, filling up the stat-line across the board. Chandler tallied 23 points to go along with 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks – a great showing amidst the swirling rumors about Chandler being unhappy with his current role on the team.
Faried continued his hot play and cruised to his fourth straight double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Denver came close to coughing up the lead at the end
Though the Nuggets led the Bucks 70-53 at halftime, the Bucks crawled back into the game in the third quarter doing what they do best: getting the ball to the paint.
Jabari Parker reminded everyone that Antetokounmpo is not the only rising young star in Milwaukee, leading the comeback charge with his shooting and explosiveness off the dribble.
Antetokounmpo and Parker combined for a total of 50 points on the night.
Malcolm Brogdon and Henson played key roles in the third quarter charge for the Bucks as well, but the Nuggets never let the lead shrink past five points until midway through the fourth quarter.
It was the fourth quarter when the Joker dished out his tenth assist of the night, securing his triple-double, (the first for any Nuggets player since 2013) but Milwaukee was able to penetrate in the paint far too often and they cut the Nuggets lead to one point with under two minutes to go.
But a timely three-pointer from Jameer Nelson and some clutch late-game hustle from Kenneth Faried sealed the big win for the Nuggets to officially end the two-game losing streak.