January 9, 2022; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) is defended by Oklahoma City Thunder center Mike Muscala (33) during a practice to the basket during the second half at Paycom Center. Denver won 99-95. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Denver star Nikola Jokic is looking to continue his solid game when the Nuggets visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
The reigning NBA MVP has managed eight consecutive double-doubles and scored at least 20 points in 14 of the last 15 games. Jokic has three 20-point, 20-rebound efforts during the period.
Seeing how Jokic works has been an eye-opening experience for teammate Austin Rivers, who joined the Nuggets in mid-April last season.
Rivers now sees the big man up close game after game and marvels at the decision whether to shoot or pass.
“He sees the craziest defenses,” Rivers said after Sunday’s 99-95 road victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. “Between him and probably (from Philadelphia) Joel Embiid, I don’t know who gets dubbed like that. As soon as he touches it he has like a swarm of guys around him, and he has to do the right read every time.
Jokic contributed 22 points, 18 rebounds and six assists against Oklahoma City. His season averages of 25.8 points, 14.2 rebounds and 7.0 assists earn him a second straight MVP.
Rivers also won against the Thunder setting a season record of 22 points and six to 3 points as Denver won for the fifth time in seven games.
Rivers’ effort was certainly timely as he averaged 4.6 points on 9 of 32 shots in the previous five games. He made 8 of 13 shots against Oklahoma City, including 6 of 8 from behind the arc.
“I think the big deal with Austin is sometimes you just have to catch and shoot instead of holding and sometimes dancing with the ball, and he did it,” said the coach. Nuggets, Michael Malone. “When he was open he shot the ball and he shot it extremely efficiently for us.”
Rivers will face one of his former teams in the Clippers on Thursday. He contributed 12 points when Denver claimed a 103-100 victory in Los Angeles on December 26.
Jokic had 26 points, 22 rebounds and eight assists in this game when he was just 9 of 24 on the field.
Eric Bledsoe had 18 points and 10 assists and Brandon Boston Jr. also scored 18 for the Clippers.
Los Angeles are struggling with just four wins in their last 13 games leading up to the rematch. The slide sent the Clippers one game below 0.500 at a time when star forward Paul George is still about three weeks away from returning due to his elbow injury.
The Clippers beat the Atlanta Hawks 106-93 on Sunday when they received a surprisingly strong effort from guard Amir Coffey.
Coffey was in the starting lineup for the sixth time this season and had his best outing of the campaign with 21 points on 8 of 12 shots, including 5 of 8 from behind the arc. The points and the 3 points scored corresponded to his best career records.
The third-year pro was needed in the starting lineup as Luke Kennard missed his fifth straight game due to his adherence to the COVID-19 protocol.
“I always tell myself it’s a marathon,” Coffey told reporters as he waited for his turn to begin. ” There are ups and downs. Good and bad games, back and forth. It’s about keeping a cool head in the good times and in the bad times. Don’t climb too high or too low. I do what I love.
Los Angeles coach Tyronn Lue has said the mental approach is key for his club at the moment.
“We just can’t let that negativity creep in, even if it gets difficult and we just can’t mentally strain ourselves, that’s the most important thing,” Lue told reporters. “So we just have to keep fighting and get through this. “
–Field level media