Following Wednesday's blockbuster trade, plus a string of injuries, the Denver Nuggets had only seven players available, but they found an extra gear thanks to a monster game from Nikola Jokic to secure a 98-95 road win over the Utah Jazz.
On the second night of a back-to-back, Jokic recorded 30 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists, while Jamal Murray added 31 points as the Nuggets made it six wins from their past eight games.
With the win, the Nuggets ended their nine-game losing streak on the Jazz's home floor.
Here are the key takeaways from today's game:
Jokic and Murray lead the way
The short-handed Nuggets needed a big game from Nikola Jokic and that's exactly what they got, with the big man stuffing the stat sheet with his 11th triple-double of the season to seal the comeback win.
The only players with a 30-20-10 game and a W in the last 35 seasons 👇 👇 pic.twitter.com/nHdYjiQjbo- StatMuse (@statmuse) February 6, 2020
Jokic is just the ninth player in NBA history to record 30-20-10 game and more impressively it came against the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, Jokic made 13 of his14 field goal attempts with Rudy Gobert as his primary defender.
Nikola Jokic made 13 of this 14 field goal attempts with Rudy Gobert as his primary defender in the Nuggets' win over the Jazz on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/sdskNPLxXx- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 6, 2020
The Nuggets rolled out an undersized starting lineup of Monte Morris, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Torrey Craig and Nikola Jokic, with Vlatko Cancar the only other player, aling with Jokic over 6-foot-6 in the lineup.
But thanks to the Jokic's big night on the glass, they still outrebounded the Jazz 52-46, with Torrey Craig hauling in 12 rebounds of his own.
Jamal Murray added 31 points on 12-of-26 shooting as the Nuggets' star duo combined for 61 of their 98 points on the night. Monte Morris was the only other Nugget in double figures with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
"Nobody would think that we could win it," Jokic said post-game. "The whole pressure was on them today. We had seven healthy bodies. Everybody stepped up. Everybody was there. We just didn't want to quit. We didn't want an excuse tomorrow … We just went out there and try our best."
Jazz falter in crunchtime
After building a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter, the Jazz offence failed to captialise, scoring just five points over the final six minutes of the quarter to let the Nuggets back into the game as they entered the fourth quarter only down three.
As they traded the lead throughout the fourth, the Jazz looked as though they would pull away after Gobert's free throws gave them a 90-81 lead with 6:46 remaining, but the Nuggets had other ideas, clamping down on defence in crunchtime.
Utah managed just one field goal in the final seven minutes of the game, allowing the Nuggets to close the game on a 17-3 run in the final six minutes.
With under a minute remaining, Jokic put the Nuggets in front for good, with this stepback jumper over Gobert.
Nikola Jokic hits the stepback jumper to put the @nuggets ahead for good! pic.twitter.com/fMgJjz7ya1- NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) February 6, 2020
Torrey Craig turned in an energetic performance, as the Nuggets out-hustled and out-muscled the Jazz. He came up with one of the biggest plays of the night, hauling in the offensive rebound off Murray's missed three, which set up Jokic's game-winner.
Craig deserves a ton of credit for his defensive performance against Donovan Mitchell, who finished the game with 18 points and eight rebounds, shooting 8-of-24 from the field and 2-of-9 from the three-point line.
Mike Conley Jr. led the Jazz with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Gobert added 16 points and 14 rebounds. Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson added 16 points apiece as the Jazz dropped their fifth game in a row.
The Nuggets will travel to Phoenix on Sunday to take on the Suns in search of their third win in a row, while the Jazz will look to put a halt to their losing streak, when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
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