The Denver Nuggets moved to 11-3 on the season with a 96-92 win over a Boston Celtics team that simply refused to give this one away despite trying circumstances.
On the fifth game of a road trip and playing in the altitude of Denver, the Celtics outscored the Nuggets 35-25 in the fourth, but just fell short of pulling off a miraculous comeback.
After a 9-1 start to the season, Boston now falls to 11-4, and may have even greater concerns ahead.
Jokic concerns slowly starting to evaporate?
Nikola Jokic was widely tipped to be a serious MVP candidate for the 2019-20 season.
These tips were looking a little shaky over the first month of the season, as Jokic appeared to come into the season out of shape, and his usual dominant impact on the game was lacking.
While the All-Star did struggle to shoot the ball, finishing just 7-for-17 from the field and 0-for-4 from three, he was back to his playmaking best, finding open teammates with ease, on his way to compiling his third triple-double of the season with 18 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists.
Joker with the find, Jamal with the finish.#MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/v62oh2qJ5i- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) November 23, 2019
Jokic has seen his scoring efficiency drop in all areas, while his 5.8 assists per game coming into this matchup was well down on his 7.3 average from last season.
While November is far too early to be questioning whether Jokic can get back to his elite level of play from 12 months ago, nights like tonight will have Denver fans feeling A LOT better about the man they are hoping will lead them to the NBA Finals in June.
Boston's bad luck with injury continues
Despite the close result on the scoreboard, the storyline from this one is absolutely the injury to Kemba Walker.
After a scary collision with teammate Semi Ojeleye, Walker crumpled to the floor and would eventually be carried off on a stretcher.
Early indications are that Boston's Kemba Walker did not suffer a significant injury in collision tonight, league source tells ESPN. Team has diagnosed him with concussion-like symptoms. https://t.co/Qu2LMTDwaW- Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 23, 2019
Walker has been diagnosed with "concussion like symptoms" by the team, as the entire basketball world keeps their fingers crossed for the new Celtic.
On the back of Gordon Hayward's broken hand, Boston can ill-afford to have their All-Star point guard on the shelf, as they try to keep pace with the Milwaukee Bucks at the top of the East.
Jaylen Brown steps up
With Walker out for the game, it was Brown who took over in the fourth quarter when the Celtics were making their run.
Brown scored 10 of his 22 points in the final frame, doing so on 4-for-5 shooting from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range. He also pulled down three rebounds in the fourth period to bring his total to 10 for the game, giving him his second double-double of the season.
Jaylen Brown is up to 22-10-4 and the Celtics have needed every ounce of it.- Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) November 23, 2019
It obviously wasn't quite enough to get the Celtics the win, but it was another example of Brown stepping up when Boston needs him to.
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