When one watches a player like Nikola Jokic night-in and night-out, one may become accustomed to his greatness and assume that he will get triple-doubles every time he steps foot on the hardwood. Well, that’s exactly what he did again on Monday night, putting up 32 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists in a 131-124 win against a depleted Warriors team.
That’s now 18 triple-doubles on the season and much like everyone who watches Denver basketball, his teammates are starting to become numb to his performances and expecting him to play like that in every game.
“Monte and I were talking about it yesterday. We’re kind of getting numb to the amount [of triple doubles], how easily he does it and how effortlessly he does it,” Davon Reed said. “That was last night and then to go back out there and do it again tonight on a back to back he’s just an incredible player and to me he’ll be the MVP again this year.”
Davon Reed did some damage himself, off the bench, scoring a career-high 17 points, including five 3-pointers. The Nuggets were without Will Barton, who rolled his ankle against the Pelicans on Sunday, so that meant Austin Rivers in the starting lineup and more playing time for Reed off the bench and he was more than ready.
“If I don’t play I’m upstairs after every game getting shots up,” Reed said. “I’m getting my work in everyday so all I can do is control what I can control and that’s staying ready.”
The Warriors were also missing key players in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins. Steve Kerr made the decision to leave them at home to rest due to fatigue. It might’ve not been the best time to rest the most important players on his team due to the fact that they’ve now lost five in a row and 9 of their last 11 but Kerr didn’t want to risk injury.
Even without their three All-Stars, Golden State presented some challenges to Denver. Rookie Moses Moody scored 22 of his 30 points in the first half and kept the game within reach. Jordan Poole finished the night with 32 points connecting on 8-of-12 3-point attempts.
Every time the Nuggets looked like they had the game on lock, the Warriors kept fighting back. Golden State had a 14-9 lead and shot 80 percent from long range to start the first quarter. Denver went on a 7-0 run and came out on top 40-31 to end the first quarter.
With less than a minute into the second, Michael Malone called a timeout after Golden State got within five. Out of the break, Reed hit back to back 3s to get the lead back up to nine but the Warriors put together a 9-2 run to get within four. Poole went off and knocked down 3 after 3 to make it a 2-point game. He finished with 11 in the quarter. Denver was up 71-69.
Malone had a message for his guys at halftime after a disappointing start.
“At halftime my mantra was this is the most important half of the season coming up because it’s the half we’re about to play,” Malone said. “And the defense in that first half was nonexistent…the challenge at halftime was we got to step it up. We can’t allow a team to put up 31 and 38 and their starting group is watching the game back in Oakland.”
Denver’s defense to start the third quarter was also nonexistent after allowing Golden State to go on an 8-0 run to take a 77-71 lead. The Nuggets regrouped and put together a 12-6 run of their own to tie it up at 83. Denver eventually got its lead back up to nine after going on a 15-0 run. The Warriors weren’t going away though. They cut their deficit to just three after closing out the quarter on a 13-2 run. Denver still had the 104-101 lead.
The Nuggets took as much a 10-point lead with 8:35 in the fourth quarter and in typical Warriors fashion they rained on that parade and went on a 6-0 run to get within four points midway through. It was a 115-111 Denver lead at that point. The rest of the quarter was back and fourth but the Nuggets kept attacking the paint and went to the free throw line 15 times in the quarter. Jokic’s 10 points sealed the deal in a 131-124 win.
The highlights of the game were the 39 assists and only nine turnovers. The Nuggets also outscored the Warriors 66-52 in the paint.
Denver has now won three games in a row and has won nine of its last 10. The Kings are next on the schedule and the Nuggets will be traveling there to face them on Wednesday before coming back to Denver to take on the Warriors again and then the Raptors. Denver is still sixth in the Western Conference standings.