NBA Wrap January 20th
IMAGE: TORONTO STAR
JOKIC ROLLING AS NUGGETS TROUNCE THUNDER
Nikola Jokic was doing everything for the Denver Nuggets and with his teammates along for the ride they were hard to handle.
Jokic put up 27 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists in three quarters as the Nuggets tore the contest wide apart in the second half to cruise home over the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-101.
The magical Serbian’s usual productive night was his ninth double-double this season and through 14 games he is averaging 25.1 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10 assists whilst shooting 85.2% from the charity stripe.
His front court partner Paul Millsap had one of his strongest all-round performances of the campaign posting 13 points and 12 rebounds and was a constant presence on the boards as Denver hammered OKC in that category 58-41.
The first half was competitive as the teams exchanged strong offensive sequences, before Denver snatched the momentum using a 14-3 run in the last 2:23 of the first half to go into intermission up 13.
From there the floodgates opened the Nuggets’ way with Jokic, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Monte Morris all contributing as Thunder’s usually stable defence was overwhelmed.
Denver would have the luxury of resting Jokic and the starters in the final quarter as the Nuggets surged further ahead to lead by a game-high 29 winning its fourth game in six.
For the Thunder, defensive stopper Luguentz Dort had a team-high 20 who now have dropped three of four.
Up next for Denver is two games both at Phoenix as part of a five-game road trip. OKC remains on the road this time in the bright lights of LA for two games against the streaking Clippers.
MITCHELL AND THE JAZZ TOO MUCH FOR PELICANS
All-Star Donovan Mitchell was on target finishing with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists as the Utah Jazz extended its winning streak to six this time over the New Orleans Pelicans 118-102.
Jordan Clarkson who’s scored in double-figures in all but one game in the season had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists for one of the red-hot Sixth Man of the Year contenders, while Aussie Joe Ingles posted 15 all from distance where he went 5 of 9.
New Orleans’ star Zion Williamson led the Pelicans with 32 points, while Brandon Ingram was nullified to just 17 points, only his third game this season under 20 as the side have now lost 13 of 16 against Utah.
A relatively open free first half would see Utah take a 55-49 lead at intermission. Then the second half would be all Jazz as it used a 36-20 third quarter to widen the gap with extra floor spacing to land 7 of their 21 threes in the term.
New Orleans wouldn’t quietly go away closing the gap to 14 on a Josh Hart’s layup with 7:23 in the fourth, but that would as close as the Pelicans got as the Jazz created an arms length to snuff out any hope.
The teams meet again in two days time.
By Juri Bilcich