In a battle between two MVP candidates in a nationally televised game, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic put on a show in an overtime thriller.
Doncic and Jokic traded buckets throughout the contest as the Dallas Mavericks erased a 12-point deficit to edge the Denver Nuggets 124-117 to move to 4-4 on the season.
What a battle.- StatMuse (@statmuse) January 8, 2021
Luka: 38/9/13, 9 PTS in OT
Jokic: 38/11/4, 17 PTS in 4Q
Both of them are leading their respective teams in points, rebounds and assists this season. pic.twitter.com/1czodlGoNp
Doncic = clutch
Fresh off his first triple-double of the campaign, Luka Doncic filled it up again, turning in his best performance of the young season, showing off his poise in pressure situations.
For everything the Nuggets threw at Doncic, the 21-year-old had an answer as he piled up 38 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds on 13-of-22 shooting from the field and 2-of-7 from the 3-point line.
The Mavs had a 145.0 offensive rating in 10 clutch minutes tonight, and an 89.5 defensive rating. That will win you a lot of games. On the season they're 7th in clutch offense and 15th in defense. It's early still but their late-game stuff is off to a better start than last year.- Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) January 8, 2021
With the Mavs trailing by one point late in regulation, Doncic attracted two Nuggets defenders before finding an open Maxi Kleber for a 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds to go, putting them up 109-107 with 3.3 seconds left.
That's a bad man pic.twitter.com/y57JmpxqlQ- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 8, 2021
In overtime, with the Mavs leading 120-117, he calmly got to his spot at the free-throw line, before stepping back for the jumper, which gave them a five-point lead with 33.1 seconds to go.
He then iced the game at the free-throw line, burying a pair with 15 seconds remaining.
Doncic scored nine of his 38 points in the extra period, including the Mavs' final five points as they outscored the Nuggets 15-8.
CLUTCH. 38/13/9 for LUKAAAA pic.twitter.com/Tl0DjrlvLA- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 8, 2021
Not only did Doncic deliver when it mattered most, but he is also showing signs of growth on the defensive end, recording four steals and a block in today's win.
"I think my defence is growing day-by-day," said Doncic of his growth on that end. "I'm just trying harder, not letting anyone affect me, trying my best. I think it's going to grow every game."
Jokic making strong MVP case
While the Nuggets fall to 3-5 on the season, Nikola Jokic continues to show his MVP credentials, with yet another dominant display.
Jokic finished with his second-straight game scoring 35+ points, recording 38 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, with 17 of his points coming in the fourth quarter alone.
Over the last 2 seasons, Nikola Jokic is 5-5 on game-tying or go-ahead shots inside the final 10 seconds of the 4th qtr/OT.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 8, 2021
His 5 makes are the most by any player over that span. pic.twitter.com/yYjpFyxScU
After Doncic set up Kleber's late triple at the end of regulation, Jokic pulled out one of his 'I'm playing H-O-R-S-E in the driveway' shots, burying a heavily contested long jumper to send the game to OT.
Mavs big man Willie Cauley-Stein had his hand in his face, but it mattered for little as the Serbian sent the rainbow jumper in for a swish.
Nikola said he wants to play more. So, we're headed to OT. #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/tfhR2zGu49- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 8, 2021
Through eight games this season, Jokic is now averaging 25.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 10.9 assists per game.
The Nuggets head East for a three-game road trip, where they'll take on the Philadelphia 76ers (7-2) in a highly-anticipated matchup between Jokic and Joel Embiid.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks return to Dallas to host the Orlando Magic (6-2) on Sunday, before a must-see matchup against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday (IST).
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.