WHAT. A. GAME.
Nikola Jokic put together another MVP level performance with a triple-double of 49 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists to lead the Denver Nuggets to victory. No assist was more crucial than his 10th and final one that lead to Aaron Gordon’s game winning three-pointer.
The pass— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 20, 2022
FOR. THE. WIN. pic.twitter.com/UPyoBfPqbK
Jokic scored 37 of his 49 points in the second half and overtime to lead the Nuggets to victory and did so on an efficient 16-of-25 shooting from the field, 3-of-5 from three, and 14-of-16 from the free-throw line. While we are on the topic of stat lines, Gordon put up a pretty spectacular one with 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, 4-of-7 from three.
Monte Morris’ name should also be mentioned as he played his heart out — rarely subbing out — and finished the game just shy of his first career triple-double finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists.
Now, back to how we got to this point. The Nuggets seemed to be in control once the night started as they opened the game on a 9-3 run as everything was clicking on both ends of the floor. The Clippers looked out of sync, while the Nuggets were playing team basketball that lead to tons of easy looks and baskets. Denver held a 29-25 lead after the first quarter, which quickly evaporated before halftime as the Clippers outscored the Nuggets 34-18 in the second quarter highlighted by a 13-2 run from Los Angeles in the middle of the period.
At the break, the Nuggets trailed 59-47 and a big reason why was Denver’s bench was outscored 20-10 by the Clippers. Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets at halftime with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field, while Monte Morris also had a solid opening two quarters with eight points, eight rebounds, and four assists. The Clippers player that really gave the Nuggets fits in the first half was Reggie Jackson, who scored 15 points behind three three-pointers.
It all started to take a turn for the better in the third quarter as the Nuggets won the period 34-22 thanks to some phenomenal play from Jokic. In the third quarter, Jokic scored 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field, 2-of-2 from three to go along with six rebounds and three assists as the Nuggets and Clippers were tied at 81 going into the final 12 minutes of play.
Jokic’s play in the third quarter seemed to give everyone on the Nuggets confidence and we know there’s no Nuggets player more confident than Bones Hyland, who opened the fourth quarter with a big three-pointer to give Denver the lead and even more momentum. Aaron Gordon added a lay up on the Nuggets next possession as they opened the fourth quarter on a 5-0 run and were firing on all cylinders.
The Clippers were not going to go quietly though as they kept fighting as the Nuggets had zero answers of how to slow down Jackson. Not only did Jackson finish with 28 points, but he also finished with a double-double thanks to his 12 assists. Jackson constantly got whatever shot he was looking for and when his shot wasn't there he was finding open Clippers teammates for easy looks they often converted.
After some timely scoring and a couple mini runs from the Clippers they built a 108-100 lead over Denver with four minutes remaining. The Nuggets — like they did all second half — answered with an 8-0 run to tie the game. After a ton of back and fourth in the games closing minutes, the Nuggets forced a 24-second shot clock violation with 2.9 seconds left in regulation to give them one chance to win with the game tied at 114.
Denver got a good look as they got the ball to Jokic, but the Nuggets superstar big man had just a little to much mustard on the shot as the two teams went to overtime. In the extra period, the Clippers and Nuggets were trading baskets till Los Angeles built a narrow 123-120 lead with 1:44 to go in overtime.
Like he always seems to do, this is the part of the game when Jokic took over with back-to-back possessions in which the leagues reigning MVP collected an offensive rebound and converted a putback lay in. This gave the Nuggets a 1-point lead with just over a minute remaining as the two teams traded baskets till Jokic and Gordon connected on the game-winning three pointer with just over one second remaining.
The Nuggets record now sits at 23-20 as they are 3-1 on their current six-game home stand that will close out with the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday and the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night. Until then, celebrate this game and the performance by Jokic, it truly was one for the ages.