The Denver Nuggets started their game against the New Orleans Pelicans with some fast offense, and they quickly jumped out to an 11-3 lead less than three minutes into the game. Will Barton and Nikola Jokic were aggressive and hitting shots early on, and New Orleans largely had no answer for Denver’s starting unit. As the quarter wore on, that lead dwindled as the hot shooting waned, and Denver ultimately was only leading 35-33 at the end of the first quarter.
During the second quarter, it was a dogfight between the two sides with each team trading buckets for much of the period. The bench unit for Denver wasn’t scoring all that much, but they were playing solid defense against New Orleans. Jokic’s stellar night was continuing on the offensive end as he had nine assists at the half. The team was also enjoying having rookie Bones Hyland back in the lineup who had provided a few points off of the bench. At the half, Denver was shooting 60.5 percent from the field and had 18 assists as a team. After winning the second quarter 29-24, Denver was leading at the half 64-57 on the road.
9⃣ dimes from Joker in the first half pic.twitter.com/V4908DT7SX— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) December 9, 2021
The third quarter was cold for both teams, as they combined to put up just 36 points, after Denver had scored 35 by themselves in the first quarter. New Orleans won their first quarter of the game 20-16 as Jokic got his double-double during the third quarter. New Orleans was closing the gap on Denver, and they nearly got a late 3-pointer from Davon Reed to go at the buzzer that was blown off after he released it too late.
Denver’s lead officially evaporated in the fourth quarter. With the starters on the bench, New Orleans went on a run, and they were not letting up before punctuating their run with a huge dunk from Herbert Jones over Jokic once he had entered the game with just over 6:00 remaining on the clock. Denver had just six points in the paint in the second half while the Pelicans had 26. Denver was repeatedly settling for long-range jumpers while the Pelicans were getting dunks and layups at the rim. A pair of calls went Denver’s way inside the final two minutes, and Monte Morris tied the game at 103 with three free throws. Jokic took the lead for Denver with 16.9 remaining, and the Pelicans had one final possession to try and match or take the lead. The Pelicans got a tip-in to tie the game. Jokic had a long two-point shot that rolled all the way around the rim before falling out and sending the game to overtime.
The best closer in the league. pic.twitter.com/vBkzPL9pDP— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) December 9, 2021
The Nuggets started overtime with some quick points, and Jokic was getting after the Pelicans often scoring the team’s first nine points in the extra period. They were leading 114-109 with 2:00 remaining as Jokic snagged his 10th rebound to get his 61st career triple-double. Jokic was up to 39 points, and he had Denver leading 116-112 with 40.3 remaining on the clock. The Nuggets went on to win 120-114 after an amazing performance by Jokic that saw the reigning MVP take over down the stretch to get the team back to .500 on the season.
Points: Nikola Jokic - 39
Assists: Jokic - 11
Rebounds: Jokic - 11
Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic - 39 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 1 steal, 17-of-23 field goals, 5-of-9 free throws