In a game the Denver Nuggets needed to win, Nikola Jokić absolutely delivered.
The Nuggets won 118-112 over the Chicago Bulls on the front end of a back-to-back in which the Nuggets will travel to Milwaukee to face Bucks on Tuesday night. Because of that, in a close game, the Nuggets needed to win the one tonight to give themselves some flexibility.
When Jokić reentered the game with 9:57 left in the fourth quarter, he had 22 points. He finished the game with 39 points, scoring 17 in the fourth quarter alone and with several coming on consecutive possessions. It was an incredibly clutch scoring performance against a Bulls team that, while relatively small, was very physical with him throughout the game. Rather than be taken out of him aggressive mentality by the physicality the Bulls were playing with, Jokić went right back at the defense, Wendell Carter Jr. and Thaddeus Young in particular, and dominated down the stretch. It was an MVP caliber scoring performance.
This says nothing of the 14 rebounds, nine assists, one steal, and two blocks Jokić also chipped in. It was well-rounded, impactful, and exactly what the Nuggets needed.
Now, the Nuggets have a little bit of a buffer. They can lose against the Milwaukee Bucks and be okay. That being said, they could steal that one just like last year, and I have a feeling Joker will show up just as big against the Bucks too.