In the eve of the NBA’s much anticipated announcement of this season’s MVP winner, Nikola Jokic staged another tremendous performance for the Denver Nuggets to further add such hype to the award’s narratives.
Registering 39 points, 16 boards and five dimes in 17-of-30 shooting, Jokic carried his club on another momentum night as the Nuggets took a 2-0 series margin over the Phoenix Suns in their 2023 Western Conference Semifinals showdown via 97-87 Game 2 victory.
With both Jamal Murray (3-of-15) and Michael Porter Jr. (2-of-7) finding troubles on their shot mechanics, it was Jokic all by himself who carried the heavy scoring load for Denver.
“Nikola’s an MVP for a reason,” Malone said. “He can take over a game. He can beat you in a lot of ways. … I love a guy who’s getting to the basket, imposing his will upon the other team.”
Jokic feasted down the stretch with his 14 points in the fourth frame, which fully allowed the Nuggets to take themselves away from the Suns after a tight three quarters.
With his solid performance in full display on Monday, Jokic became the fifth player in league history to etch 20+ points, 15+ boards, and 5+ assists in three consecutive playoff games.
Aaron Gordon delivered another important two-way night for the Nuggets, churning 16 markers. He also mainly held down Kevin Durant to 24 points in an uncharacteristic 10-of-16 shooting.
Jokic needs only one more rest to fully determine if he’ll bag his third-consecutive MVP award, which will put himself alongside Larry Bird and Wilt Chamberlain amongst the mythical players who managed to accomplish this ultimate feat.
But the Serbian superstar insisted that he got no such interest on the proclamation of the league’s best player in the 2022-23 season.
“I can’t think about it, like zero interest,” Jokic said.
As such, Malone can only share the same sentiments with Jokic, as they are mainly eyeing themselves to clinch the ultimate prize.
“I know what motivates Nikola Jokic, myself, and the rest of the guys in that locker room. It’s not the MVP,” Malone said. “ … If he wins, it, we will be celebrating and very happy for him because it’d be a huge accomplishment – three years in a row. Only a few guys in NBA history have done that.
“If he doesn’t win it, I’m still gonna give him a hug and tell him he’s the MVP in my eyes.”