Nikola Jokic had the game-winning block in a thrilling 110-109 win over the Raptors on Saturday night. It was the Nuggets second night of a back-to-back and they snapped Toronto’s 8-game winning streak.

The reigning MVP finished with 21 points on 7-11 shooting, 13 rebounds and five assists, but he missed two crucial free throws with 12.8 seconds left which would’ve given Denver a three-point lead. Fred VanVleet then missed a 3-pointer at the other end, OG Anunoby grabbed the offensive rebound and attempted the put-back to take the lead but Jokic was there with the rejection to win the game.

“It just shows you how great of a player ‘Jok’ is and how quick he can forget all things,” Bones Hyland said. “I know he was frustrated on them two free throws that he missed but we came to him and said don’t worry about that. This is the biggest stop right here of the game and we counted on him and we knew something was going to come involved with him and we just said get this stop for us and as soon as he got the block we just ran over to him and celebrated with him.”

After every win, Michael Malone rewards one of his players with the Defensive Player of the Game chain and the cheers inside the locker room were exceptionally loud for Jokic winning it.

“The cheers were not for him winning it,” Malone said. “The cheers were for him taking it. I walked into the locker room with it and even before I could announce who won it he went over and said I’ll take this and he put it on and the locker room went crazy. He beat me to it. That’s another game sealing block by Nikola Jokic. Incredible play to block OG Anounby’s offensive rebound put back.”

The Nuggets put up some impressive numbers on the second night of a back-to-back. They out rebounded the Raptors 50-35 and had 28 assists. Their bench also outscored the Raptors’ bench 29-12.

“I’m really proud of our group,” Malone said. “Not an easy back-to-back. We’ve come to the East coast six different times this year and at Boston last night, tough physical game, tough loss. Get in late, get through customs, and no people in these stands. We fought, we competed, we found a way. This was a really big win.”

Jokic went on a 7-0 run midway through the first quarter to give Denver a 19-11 lead. Toronto got within two and then Jokic responded with another run of his own scoring eight straight points. He scored 18 points in the first quarter to give the Nuggets a 31-25 lead. As a team they shot 48 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc.

The Raptors opened the second quarter on a 20-6 run to take a 45-37 lead. This was all while Jokic was on the bench. As soon as the MVP came back in the Nuggets went on a 7-0 run to take back the lead at 50-49. It was back-and-forth the rest of the quarter. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet knocked down consecutive triples and then Hyland hit a 3 to close it out. Raptors had the 57-56 lead at the half. Siakam had 13 points in the quarter.

It was back-and-forth the throughout the third. Jeff Green tied it up at 59 after a 3-pointer but the Raptors went on a 7-2 run to take a 66-62 lead. Then an Aaron Gordon 3 got Denver within one point but Toronto scored four straight points. The Nuggets continued knocking down triples and scored six in the quarter while the Raptors dominated the paint with a 16-6 advantage. Later, Denver went on a 7-2 run to take an 81-79 lead but the Raptors closed it out on a 7-2 run to go up 86-83.

The Nuggets bench took a 12-1 run without Jokic on the floor to start the fourth and took a 98-95 lead. The Raptors weren’t going away so easy and tied it up later in the quarter at 103. Then Hyland hit a big time triple with two minutes left in regulation.

“Well, the young man is not scared,” Malone said of Hyland “He’s not scared of the moment, he’s a tough kid. 11 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and we drew up a play late to get him and Nikola involved in a screen and roll. They doubled Nikola and I wanted Bones to be that first guy from the double team and there was no hesitation.”

Jokic followed it up with a tip-shot to take a 108-103 lead. With 22 seconds left, VanVleet knocked down a clutch 3 to get within one. Jokic got fouled at the other end and missed a pair of free throws which would’ve given them a 3-point lead. He made up for it with the game-winning block on OG Anunoby to win it 110-109.

This was a solid win for Denver considering the nights both Siakam and VanVleet had. Siakam put up 35 points on 16-22 shooting, 10 rebounds and seven assists while VanVleet added 25 points on 7-14 shooting from the field and 6-11 from beyond the arc.

The Nuggets have two more games until the All-Star break. They face Orlando at home on Monday and head to Golden State to take on the Warriors on Wednesday. Denver has won 8 of its last 12 games.