Sacramento Kings

Nikola Jokic and Tyrese Haliburton: MVP and ROY candidates duel as Sacramento Kings defeat Denver Nuggets

If you aren't familiar with Sacramento Kings' rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton, get to know the name.

The No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft is making his presence felt in the league, continuing his push as a Rookie of the Year candidate with a career-high 23 points to help the Kings fight off a historic career-high 50 points from Most Valuable Player candidate Nikola Jokic.

Sacramento held a slim six-point lead going into the fourth quarter, doing everything they could to contain Jokic who already had a full night's work of 27 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. If someone were to have told you that Jokic would go on to score 23 points in the fourth quarter alone, coming up clutch like the MVP candidate he has been, you'd probably assume Denver won the game, right? Wrong.

Haliburton wasn't going to let this one slip away for Sacramento, scoring or assisting on 18 of the Kings' 32 fourth-quarter points. No shot he hit was bigger than this pull-up jumper that would eventually decide the game's outcome.

He had 12 points and three assists in the game's final frame, finishing with six assists, four boards and two steals to go with his career-best scoring total. It was the second time this week that he had set a new career-mark in scoring.

And even after that clutch shot, Jokic wasn't going down without a fight, scoring eight more points in the final 55 seconds to reach his career-best 50-point mark.

The All-Star centre would finish with 12 assists and eight boards to go with his milestone scoring output, making history along the way.

Jokic became the first player in Nuggets history with 50-plus points and 10-plus assists in a game, and he became also the first centre of the 3-point era (1980) to achieve that same feat, according to StatMuse.

Even with his record book outing, the Kings' rookie helped Sacramento prevail for their third consecutive win and sixth win in seven games.

The Kings have now beaten Denver three times this season and have established a spot in the Western Conference playoff race with an 11-11 record, as only 1.5 games separate them from fourth place. With the loss, the Nuggets fall to 12-10, tied in a four-way logjam for fifth place.

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