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#pounditThursday, January 27, 2022

Nikola Jokic

Video: Nikola Jokic throws beautiful pass on Nuggets’ winning shot

Nikola Jokic doubleteamed

Aaron Gordon made a big 3-pointer to help his Denver Nuggets get a win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, but Nikola Jokic deserves some recognition for helping to make the shot happen.

Jokic had a monster game for the Nuggets, scoring 49 points with 14 rebounds and 10 assists. He was constantly getting double-teamed by the Clippers, including in overtime when Amir Coffey helped Ivica Zubac as time was ticking down.

Because he was double-teamed, Jokic knew that meant he had one teammate unguarded. He located that teammate — Gordon who was on the other end of the court, setting up for a 3-point shot. Not only did Jokic locate him and attempt the pass, but the pass hit Gordon perfectly in the chest — exactly where a shooter wants the ball:

Gordon nailed the clutch shot as part of his 28-point game. But Jokic earned that assist the hard way.

Not only does he have great on-court intelligence and execution, but his accuracy with his passing is unreal. He couldn’t have put it in a better spot for Gordon. That’s why he’s the reigning league MVP.

Nikola Jokic responds to Nuggets coach saying he is not ‘sexy’

Nikola Jokic in a warmup

Nikola Jokic responded on Thursday night to being described by his coach as “not sexy.”

There has been chatter this week in response to Michael Malone’s assertion that Jokic is one of the more “disrespected” MVPs.

The Denver Nuggets head coach said Tuesday that he believes Jokic is more disrespected as an MVP because his game is “not sexy.”

Malone threw in a joke about Jokic’s wife disagreeing.

But on Thursday night, Jokic was asked about his coach’s line. The Nuggets big man said he liked Malone’s line and agreed with the coach.

“He’s not lying,” Jokic said in a postgame interview with TNT, before giving a wink.

Self-deprecating humor is always good for winning over a crowd.

Jokic had 20 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in his Nuggets’ 140-108 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night. The reigning league MVP is averaging 25.7 points, 14.1 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game this season. Those aren’t bad numbers for someone who’s not sexy.

Photo: Apr 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Markieff Morris calls out ‘fat boy’ Nikola Jokic in tweet about their incident

Nikola Jokic's cheap shot on Markieff Morris

It may be time to prepare for yet another round of beef between Markieff Morris and Nikola Jokic.

The Miami Heat forward Morris reacted on Thursday to a tweet that said it was “wild” that he had missed 30 straight games since his incident with the Denver Nuggets center Jokic on Nov. 8.

Morris responded angrily and added in a swipe at Jokic over Jokic’s weight.

“Ain’t s— wild about it!” tweeted Morris (profanity edited by LBS). “It’s a real injury! Imagine having a 300 pound sloppy fat boy run full speed and make direct contact with your spine! I’ll be back soon like I said.”

Jokic is officially listed at 284 pounds. He has poked fun at his weight before and recently even shared the terrible diet he had before coming to the NBA.

The Heat have officially been listing Morris as “out (neck, whiplash).” There is little doubt about the legitimacy of Morris’ injury, especially when you see the video of how his neck snapped backwards from Jokic’s hit.

The altercation between the two players had a significant fallout in which both teammates and family members became involved. Morris’ tweet here just might start up the feud all over again.

Nikola Jokic reveals terrible diet he had before coming to NBA

Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic has become an MVP winner in the NBA, but he apparently had to make some big lifestyle changes in order to get to that level.

The Denver Nuggets center spoke this week with Serbian television network Arena Sport and revealed the awful diet that he had before arriving in the NBA, namely drinking a whole lot of soda.

“I used to drink two or three liters of Coca-Cola every day,” said Jokic, as translated by Reuters. “I had my last can on the flight to the United States.

“The first week of practice [in the NBA] was tough,” Jokic went on. “All my teammates were more physical and athletic. They could slam-dunk any way you like, and I kind of wanted to go home.”

Jokic played professionally in Serbia for three years before coming to the NBA. He was an unheralded prospect at the time he was drafted, going with the No. 41 overall pick to Denver in 2014. But Jokic rolled with the punches, got himself into shape, and has now become one of the NBA’s best players.

Officially listed at 284 pounds, the three-time All-Star Jokic is still among the heftier guys in the league. He often pokes fun at his own frame too. But it turns out that cutting out the sugary drinks may have really helped Jokic develop into the elite superstar that he is today.

Photo: Apr 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Markieff Morris gives unexpected update on his injury from Jokic fight

Nikola Jokic's cheap shot on Markieff Morris

Miami Heat forward Markieff Morris still has not played since taking a blow to the back from Nikola Jokic over a month-and-a-half ago. There is finally a bit less uncertainty now about his status though.

Morris has missed 23 straight games and counting after his violent incident with the Denver Nuggets center Jokic in November (video here). The Heat have provided little clarity on Morris’ situation, simply listing him as “out” with a neck injury on a game-by-game basis and giving no return timetable.

Five Reasons Sports tweeted this week that it was probably time for the Heat to start giving more public information about Morris. Then, Morris himself unexpectedly replied, hinting that his return was “coming soon.”

The Heat could really use the depth right now. In addition to Morris, they have also been without star players Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler for extended stretches this season. PJ Tucker and Dewayne Dedmon recently suffered injuries as well, leaving Miami to rely on undrafted rookie Omer Yurtseven and 41-year-old Udonis Haslem in the frontcourt.

Neck injuries can be tricky, especially if whiplash is involved. But it sounds like Morris may soon be ready to put the whole incident with Jokic, which had a number of subsequent twists and turns, behind him for good.

Nikola Jokic has funny friendship with fellow NBA center

Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic may have some enemies in the NBA (see: Morris, Markieff), but he also has some friends.

The Denver Nuggets star revealed after Monday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls that he has a funny friendship with Bulls center Nikola Vucevic.

“We play Counter-Strike a lot together,” said Jokic, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports.

“Counter-Strike” is the famous first-person shooter game. It is currently the single most popular title on top video game service Steam.

Jokic and Vucevic were also photographed hanging out together after Monday’s game.

In addition to their very similar names, Jokic and Vucevic are from the same region of Southern Europe. The former hails from Serbia and the latter from neighboring Montenegro.

The two big men are also part of a larger clique of European NBA stars, as we saw last year in the Orlando bubble.

Photo: Apr 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Jokic has funny request for Nuggets after big game

Nikola Jokic

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is ready to embrace a new road trip ritual.

Jokic and the Nuggets were in New York over the weekend to play the Knicks, and had some downtime in the city. Jokic used that time to take in harness racing at The Meadowlands, and it sounds like he enjoyed the experience.

Not only that, but Jokic went off for 32 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in Saturday’s win over the Knicks. That was enough for Jokic to contemplate making a harness racing trip a part of his road trip itinerary.

If taking in a horse race actually bolstered Jokic’s road numbers, the Nuggets would probably get right on it. On the other hand, those numbers aren’t that far off Jokic’s season averages of 25.7 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game, so how much did it really help?

We do know that Jokic was having some fun with one of the Knicks’ most famous fans during Saturday’s game. Maybe the reigning MVP just needs to banter with Spike Lee regularly to post huge lines.

Nikola Jokic had hilarious back-and-forth with Spike Lee during game

Spike Lee

Nearly 30 years after he came at Reggie Miller, Spike Lee is proving that he has still got it.

Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets played the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, earning the 113-99 win. After the game, Jokic revealed that he had a funny back-and-forth with the famed film director Lee.

“He said it wasn’t a foul,” said Jokic, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “And I said, ‘Brother, I think it was.’”

Jokic, who only shot one free throw during the game, appears to be referring to a sequence during the third quarter where he drew an and-one on Knicks center Mitchell Robinson off a fadeaway jumper. You can see the play at the 0:23 mark of the video below.

As for Lee, now 64, he is as legendary of a Knicks fan as they come and is a courtside staple at The Garden. Admittedly though, the exchange with Jokic was a lot tamer than the ones that Lee has had with other opponents before.

Photo: February 17, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Film director and actor Spike Lee in attendance during the skills challenge at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Udonis Haslem has warning for Nikola Jokic’s brothers

Udonis Haslem

Udonis Haslem is ready for the smoke ahead of the much-awaited rematch between the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets.

The Heat veteran offered a warning this weekend for Nikola Jokic’s brothers in anticipation of Monday’s game against the Nuggets in Miami.

“I keep hearing about the Jokic brothers buying tickets to come to the game. They better stay in line and don’t come down there and start trouble,” said Haslem, per the Miami Herald. “Miami is my city. It’s my city.”

Haslem also said that last month’s incident between Jokic and Heat forward Markieff Morris (video here) is in the past.

“I have nothing to do with that, man,” he said. “We’re going to play a basketball game. That’s over with. I don’t have nothing to do with that.”

Jokic’s brothers, Nemanja and Strahinja, might not be so willing to let the incident go though. They created a Twitter account just to threaten Morris’ twin brother Marcus, who had expressed displeasure with what Nikola did. There have also some rampant rumors that the Jokic brothers will be in attendance for Monday’s game.

For Haslem though, he is a Miami native who has spent his entire 19-season career with the Heat. He’ll be ready to defend his turf if need be on Monday.

Photo: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Jimmy Butler was mad at Nuggets assistant during Jokic-Morris incident

Jimmy Butler

It turns out it was not actually Nikola Jokic whom Jimmy Butler looked like he wanted to throw coffee in the face of on Monday night.

During Jokic’s violent incident with Markieff Morris, the Miami Heat star Butler was yelling angrily in the direction of the Denver bench. He could be seen shouting expletives and telling someone on the Nuggets that he would “meet your a– in the back” (video here).

Many assumed that Butler was yelling at Jokic, who had taken a seat on the Nuggets bench at that point. However, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported Wednesday that Butler was actually incensed with Denver assistant Stephen Graham, a former NBA player. Graham, the twin brother of former Toronto Raptor Joey Graham, played in the NBA from 2005 to 2011. He joined the Nuggets in 2016 as a player development coach.

We don’t know what Graham may have said to Butler. But we do know that Butler was included in the punishments for the incident for escalating the matter. The Nuggets and Heat play again on Nov. 29 in Miami. That will be the next opportunity for Jokic and Morris (as well as Butler and Graham for that matter) to settle the score.

Photo: Jan 22, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) controls the ball against the Washington Wizards during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports