Jokic Makes History in Another Nuggets Win
Nikola Jokic made history on the night his Denver Nuggets clinched a fourth consecutive playoff berth with a 122-109 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Jokic became the first player in NBA history with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a season. He had 35 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and five steals Thursday evening.
Jokic's big outing came after taking an inadvertent elbow from Jaren Jackson Jr. to the right forehead and temple that drew blood in the opening minute.
After having to retreat to the bench twice to stop the bleeding, Jokic donned a red headband for the remainder of the game as he helped the Nuggets (48-33) overcome a shaky start to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Grizzlies.
"The MVP isn't even a competition," Nuggets coach Michael Malone declared afterward. "There's other great players. I'm not saying they're not great players. But what Nikola Jokic has done this year -- with this team, everything we've had to go through -- is just incredible.
"He was good last year, and he's even better this year."
Despite missing stars Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets clinched a top-six spot in the Western Conference playoffs and avoided the four-team play-in thanks to another outstanding performance from the reigning MVP.
They can still win the Northwest Division with a victory Sunday night against the Los Angeles Lakers and two losses by the Utah Jazz (48-32), who finish up against the Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers. Denver's victory also locked the Minnesota Timberwolves into the play-in.
Jokic got a game ball from the Nuggets as a keepsake of his historic night, but he joked the trainers would probably sell his blood-soaked headband on eBay.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.