Pelicans fans, I know you’re with me.
You KNEW that Jokic shot at the end of regulation was going in.
I think everyone thought this was cash from Jokic. pic.twitter.com/kXsDhazEe8— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) December 9, 2021
Sadly, last year’s MVP Nikola Jokic didn’t miss many others and his excellent outing, including in overtime, led the way as the visiting Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Pelicans by a final score of 120-114.
What a game!
Both teams were smoking hot in the first half, ending in a 7-point advantage for the Nuggets. At that time, Jokic was literally perfect, making all eight of his shots and sending out nine assists. He was an absolute assassin from every angle. Meanwhile, the Pelicans got the ball moving at times, and the combination of Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas accrued most of the scoring totals. Hart did everything else, Graham made 3s, and all was relatively well.
The second half got off to an auspicious start as Kira Lewis went down with a knee injury, sending every Pels fans to prayers. Fingers crossed, the team announced the injury is just a sprain, but he’s not out of the woods yet.
Willie Green says Kira Lewis will get imaging done tonight on his right knee and team will provide an update tomorrow.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) December 9, 2021
Additionally, the Nuggets struggled early and the Pels picked up the pace a tad to grab a greater share of the advantage. Devonte Graham’s hustle play exemplified much of the third quarter, with loose play all around. Tomas Satoransky found time on the floor only because of Lewis’ absence, and Brandon Ingram made a couple of poor plays to end the quarter. His final mistake of the quarter was bailed out by a buzzer-beating 3 by Denver which came a moment too late. The Pels ended the quarter down just three points!
Hernangomez toughness, NAW sticktoitiveness, and the capper, an absolute monster Herb Jones dunk highlighted a good early portion to the fourth quarter. Honestly, we love the guy, but a series of Ingram mistakes near the end of the 4th helped to squander what was a 5-point lead with just under three minutes. Now, mind you: three minutes is an eternity in an NBA game.
Starting with the Ingram-Jokic block/charge call at 1:29: it was ruled a foul on Ingram on the floor AND upon review, it did appear he was well in position to take a charge live. However, upon review, and stated perfectly by Zach Zarba, Ingram walked up under a shooting Jokic, and he was awarded the call, which was a bucket and free throw, one Jokic missed.
After that, BI missed a shot that appeared to be in his wheelhouse ... but went in and out. Can’t fault the guy, but the effort was to get a switch where Jeff Green would be guarding him ... honestly, not a huge advantage late in a close game. Green’s a gamer.
Next, Ingram fouled Monte Morris as he attempted a 3 after somehow gluing himself to Jokic on a screen at the top of the key. Morris’ three makes tied the game with 57.6 seconds left and things were never the same.
On the next play, Ingram worked to get a switch, but why? Jeff Green was still plastered to him. So he drove and got a pass off to Herb Jones who made something of nothing, but Hart couldn’t handle the pass (maybe it was tipped?) and we got a shotclock forced nothing shot.
After one of the all-time footwork postup scores by Jokic with under 20 seconds to go, Ingram did move the ball as he should have and JV arrived where he was needed for a tip-in to get Denver one last shot in regulation, which resulted in the shot above. Overtime.
You can guess who dominated.
Jokic finished with 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. He shot 17 of 23 from the field and 5 of 9 from the free throw line LOL. Jokic made every play early in overtime to give the Nuggs the advantage which they didn’t relinquish.
Things To Thing About
Idaho Stampede D-League star Will Barton! He started off super hot, making three 3s in the first quarter and finished with 20 points and six assists. His chemistry with Jokic was nearly Murray-esque at times, exchanging passes and looks and dekes ... the two-man game is made all that much better by a big who can catch and shoot from any distance. Three Jokic makes in the first quarter were from 7, 12, and 6 feet - not many even attempt shots at those random-ass lengths.
JV kinda does! He had 27 points and 11 rebounds tonight and was a back-and-forth menace to Nikola Jokic. Sure, the league MVP had the better night, but Jonas was right there with him.
Do you ever feel yourself yelling, “Bad Josh Hart! Bad!” like a pet that just disappointed you? His failed transition attempts are just as bad as his take on Home Alone! No, but really folks, he’s a ball mover and capable catch and shoot man, but his one man fastbreak attempts can really bolster a team that doesn’t run for Alvin anymore. I’d argue his aggressiveness is getting into the bones of his teammates as they know one thing: Hart’s gonna run with the thing. It’s something I think I’m seeing here, as Hart pushes it and looks behind him to a rushing Ingram who makes a decisive play. Hart finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and six turnovers. Ah, the ups and the downs.
New Fan Favorite
Devonte’ Graham has had a sneaky good year for a team this bad ... and his game-winner against the Jazz in Salt Lake City was the highlight of the year. Make room for another big time moment, this one of the hustle variety.
Old Fan Favorite
This dunk — this game — is what we’ve all been waiting for. Herb’s athleticism and length just destroyed the planted tree that was Nikola Jokic.
Herb had a career-high 19 points on 8-11 shooting, including 2-2 from 3. He also had seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocks. He’s already known as a top flight defender and continues to shadow whoever he’s on. It’s always fun to watch a guy like this manufacture 19 points without a single play run for him, I’m sure. This is, dare I say, Shawn Marion-esque?
Geaux Herb ... er, Pels!