All eyes have been on the New York Knicks for all the wrong reasons over the past few weeks, but it was Denver’s Nikola Jokic who had the eye-popping performance on Friday night. Jokic scored a career-high 40 points (the third time he’s put up a career mark since Jan. 16) at Madison Square Garden in a 131-123 victory.
New York has been at the center of two controversies these past two weeks. First, the friction between Knicks forward (and former Nugget) Carmelo Anthony and GM Phil Jackson has started to play out in the public eye. That fracas was nothing compared to a public display by Charles Oakley earlier this week, when during a game the former engaged in a verbal altercation in the stands that nearly became physical with owner James Dolan.
It was a highly anticipated matchup between sophomore stars Kristaps Porzingis and Jokic, who finished second and third respectively in the Rookie of the Year voting last year. The night belonged to the Serbian, though. Porzingis was held to 17 points, four rebounds and two assists in 33 minutes. While Jokic had nine boards, five assists and two steals in 37 minutes to go along with his 40 points.
The Nuggets will need another heroic effort if they’re going to win on back-to-back nights. Denver is in Cleveland to face LeBron James and the world champion Cavaliers Saturday night.