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Highlights: Nikola Jokic puts up 36 / 13 against the Cavs

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Coach Michael Malone implored him to score. Jokic delivered.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There is an argument to be made about whether Nikola Jokic is best suited as a facilitator or as a a primary scoring option. There’s no real argument that Jokic can’t do either thing, though, as he showed by going shot-for-shot with LeBron James in Denver’s narrow loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. After Jokic scored 36 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and notched 6 assists in the losing effort. He abused Larry Nance Jr, who just doesn’t have the size to impede Jokic, and won a couple of battles on the boards and looking to score against LeBron as well (we won’t talk about the ones he lost).

Nikola Jokic is averaging more than 17 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists a game this year. The only players who have ever done that in a full season: Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Kevin Garnett, and Russell Westbrook. Jokic will likely need to keep his name on that list the rest of the way if the Nuggets are going to make the playoffs, because they’ll need all facets of his game in order to survive the Western Conference.

“Everybody is talking playoff, playoff, playoff,” Jokic said after the game. “But we need to think about the next game.” Hopefully the Denver Nuggets can take care of the ball in the next game and still get this kind of intensity from Jokic as the focal point.