Jokic Records Triple-Double, Nuggets Blow Out Suns in Home Opener
Things almost couldn’t have gone any better for the Nuggets’ home opener.
Nikola Jokic messed around and got his first triple-double of the season in just their second game of 2018-19, scoring 35 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists without turning the ball over to lead his team a 119-91 win against the Suns Saturday night.
All five Denver starters, a bunch that also included, Jamal Murray (26), Gary Harris (18), Will Barton (14) and Paul Millsap (14), finished in double-figures in scoring in front of a sellout crowd of 19,592.
The Nuggets, who came into the contest leading the NBA in defensive rating, limited their opposition, which put up 121 points in its opener, to just 16 in the first half. Denver also shook off an uncharacteristically poor shooting performance in a win against the Clippers Wednesday, going 50.6 percent from the field against Phoenix.
Jokic was nearly perfect.
The 7-foot, 250-pound Serbian went 11-for-11 from the field, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range, and sank all but one of his one his 11 free-throw attempts. He also added three steals and a block in 31 minutes to help his team move to 2-0 on the season, prompting the crowd to chant M-V-P while he was at the free-throw line late in the game, but he isn’t letting it go to his head at all.
“I was just waiting for them to stop,” Jokic said. “Thanks Denver. Thank you. It’s early and I think it’s funny.”
Jokic’s 35-point triple-double on perfect shooting from the floor was just the second in NBA history. The other one was recorded by Wilt Chamberlain. Jokic became just the second Nugget to record a triple-double in in the first two games of the season, joining Fat Lever.
“I was thinking I was going to score like 40,” Jokic joked, following the game. “I never do that. The game just opened up like that. “I think I scored a lot in the first quarter and just continued to be aggressive.”
A 3-pointer from Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray just before the buzzer to end the second quarter gave the Nuggets a commanding 65-49 lead as they closed out the second quarter on a 16-6 run. They went into the break having shot 60 percent from the field and handed out 16 assists to one another.
The only damper on the evening for Denver came with 8:28 to go in the third quarter when Barton went down with a right hip injury after scoring on a layup and did not return to action.
The Nuggets held Suns center Deandre Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, to five points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes after going for a double-double in his NBA debut.
Devin Booker was the Suns’ leading scorer for Phoenix with 25 points. TJ Warren added 16 and Isaiah Canaan chipped in 15.
The Nuggets host the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors at 6 p.m. MT Sunday. That game will be broadcasted live on Altitude TV and streamed on AltitudeNOW.