Jokic, Barton Lead High-Flying Nuggets to Fourth Straight Win
In an NBA season where the triple-double is king, it’s only fitting that Nuggets center Nikola Jokic sit on a very rare throne.
He did it again on Thursday night, collecting triple-double No. 5 as part of a Nuggets offensive onslaught that carved out a 129-114 win over the Los Angeles Clippers at the Pepsi Center. His 17 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists tied him with Spurs legend David Robinson for the most by a center in a single season since 1985-86.
So, yes, just another night at the office for the Nuggets record-setting second-year player.
But he was by no means alone.
Will Barton put together another big performance to follow up his 22 points in the Nuggets’ win over the Lakers on Monday night. He went way over, in fact. Barton put up a career high 35 points on 12-of-18 shooting and 7-of-10 from the 3-point line. The Nuggets needed players to step up and produce with Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Darrell Arthur all out, and Barton has answered the bell.
Barton’s scoring broke down like this:
First quarter: Two points
Second quarter: 13 points
Third quarter: 11 points
Fourth quarter: 9 points
It was that kind of night for him, and because he was flying high so were the Nuggets. They collected their season-high fourth straight win. It is just the second time in the last two seasons they’ve had a win streak this long. They took the season series from the L.A. Clippers 3-1. They’ve won seven of their last nine games and are generally playing their best basketball of the season right now.
Right when they need it most.
The Flow: Both teams got off to quick starts offensively. The Nuggets hit seven of their first 14 shots while the Clippers nailed six of their first 12. Player movement and ball movement was spot-on for the Nuggets, who had assists on their first four buckets and finished with eight on their 12 made buckets overall in the period. But it was the Nuggets defense that kicked in midway through the first, forcing the Clippers to miss five straight shots and finish the quarter making just two of their last eight shots. They took an eight-point lead into the second period.
Things did not slow down for the Nuggets in the second quarter. They sprinted out on an 8-4 run, then took a 15-point lead shortly thereafter. But the Clippers answered. They turned up the defense, got stops and married those with some timely shooting. The result was a 12-4 run to tighten things up, somewhat. But the Nuggets closed the half on a 10-4 run to restore their double-digit lead at the half. Will Barton was huge in the second quarter, scoring 13 points while playing every single minute in the period.
And the scoring didn’t stop there. The Nuggets put 44 points on the Clippers in the third quarter, taking as large as a 23-point lead. The Clippers put up a small fight in the fourth, but the Nuggets closed them out.
Deciding run: A 19-8 Nuggets run at the end of the third quarter took a 12-point lead and turned it into a 23-point lead. The game was effectively over at that point.
What it means: The Nuggets gained a half-game on every team trailing them, because none played on Thursday night. It means they are now 2 ½ games clear of Portland in ninth and 3 ½ games ahead of Dallas in tenth.
Nuggets standouts: Will Barton 35 points, five rebounds… Nikola Jokic had 17 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists… Gary Harris had 20 points. … Jameer Nelson finished with 16 points and five assists.
Stat of the game: 53.6: The Nuggets shot 53.6 percent from the 3-point line (15-of-28) in the win.
Next: The Nuggets finish off this week of home games with a 7:30 p.m. contest on Saturday against the Houston Rockets at the Pepsi Center.