Nikola Jokic was benched for the entire fourth quarter of the Denver Nuggets’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, and it seems like his effort was a big reason why.
Jokic scored just four points with nine rebounds and five assists in Denver’s 118-107 loss to the 20-45 Mavs. He only played 26 minutes in the game, down from his average of 31.5.
After the game, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said he saw a lack of effort from many of his players.
Malone on what he perceived as a #Nuggets lack of effort tonight: "It’s one thing to miss shots and to make mistakes. It’s another thing to go out there and just kind of go through the motions." Malone praised the guys who played the fourth quarter and cut into Dallas' lead.
He also said those who do not give full effort will not play.
More Malone: "Right now, if you’re not going to go out there and give it your all, you’re not going to play. We don’t owe anybody anything. What each player owes is to go out there and play as hard as you can." #Nuggetshttps://t.co/YTYZexGOJW
Given that Jokic did not play in the fourth quarter and those were Malone’s comments, it seems effort is the reason why he was benched. Jokic said he had not talked to his coach about the reason why.
Nikola Jokic said there was not an immediate postgame conversation between him and Malone about why he did not play in the fourth quarter: "I don’t know what to say … I think that’s a normal thing. It’s a coach’s decision." #Nuggets
The way he went down in pain made it clear that this was not some minor issue for the big man.
The 22-year-old center was averaging 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game this season. Paul Millsap is already out with a wrist injury, meaning Denver will now be without their two top big men for the time being.
Nikola Jokic was assessed a technical foul during Monday night’s game for bumping into Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Depending on who you ask, the contact initiated by Jokic may or may not have been intentional.
Brooks was walking onto the court as Jokic was walking off following a timeout late in the fourth quarter. He put his head down and bumped Brooks. Here’s the video:
Jokic told reporters after the game that he did not see Brooks coming and was trying to look up at the scoreboard. That’s difficult to believe, especially since he never looked back or offered an apology after making contact with Brooks. Whether it was intentional or not, Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone felt Brooks flopped a bit.
DEN coach Mike Malone on Jokic bumping Scott Brooks: "There's contact made. It was embellished a little bit, to be honest, I think."
The technical foul ended up being significant. Bradley Beal made the ensuing free throw to increase Washington’s lead to 105-102, and he then sealed the win with a layup on the next possession. Wizards star John Wall felt Jokic should have apologized.
“That’s something you don’t do,” Wall said, per ABC News. “No matter what’s going on between the players or teammates, that’s something you don’t do to a coach. It’s like me calling a coach a certain name. But hopefully he’ll apologize.”
Jokic admitted he was frustrated about being pushed from behind just before he bumped into Brooks, which makes his story even tougher to believe. It will be interesting to see if the NBA deems the act worthy of a fine.
The mother of all NBA seasons is almost here. So as you finalize your League Pass subscriptions, complete your fantasy drafts, and prepare the guacamole for your watch parties, take some time to ponder the true meaning of the season — specifically, the benevolent stars who make such a joyous holiday possible with their prodigious athletic talents.
Here I present, each NBA team’s most important player heading into 2017-18:
Atlanta Hawks — Dennis Schroder, PG
“All my friends are dead,” said Schroder in his best Lil Uzi Vert voice as he gazed upon his roster following the respective exits of his last remaining All-Star teammates in Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard this summer. Yes, the Hawks are now as thin as a toothpick, and the incentive for them to “Do Badly for Bagley” or “Make The Fans Puka for Luka” will be enormous. But someone has to lead this JV squad, and their resident German is as good of an option as any. Perhaps we will see Dennis the Menace gun for 20 and 10. Maybe he develops some nice pick-and-roll chemistry with new additions Dewayne Dedmon and rookie John Collins. Perhaps he finally bleaches his entire head blonde. Anything to give this team a modicum of watchability this season.
Boston Celtics — Kyrie Irving
After selling an arm, a leg, and a hip for him this summer, the Celtics will hope that Irving’s performance in his first season with them does not fall flat. The outside noise in Uncle Drew’s ear will be deafening — mockery of his decision to ditch LeBron James and go off in search of his own empire, jeers at the perceived stagnation of his playmaking skills, pervasive meme treatments of his unorthodox views on astronomy. But Irving is here for one reason and one reason only: to ball out. And that’s what he’s gonna do. Just remember kids, there’s no such thing as distractions when you’re very much woke. [mic drop]
The Denver Nuggets’ new frontcourt tandem of Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap should prove one of the more intriguing in the NBA this season, and head coach Mike Malone thinks that they are coming along just fine.
Addressing reporters on Thursday, Malone had a funny quote about the chemistry the two are already developing, per Harrison Wind of BSN Denver.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone said the chemistry between Millsap & Jokic is coming along. Said it’s like they’re on their “2nd or 3rd date.”
The connection isn’t surprising, as Jokic and Millsap are two like-minded and unselfish big men whose respective abilities to pass, shoot, and move will really help open up the Nuggets’ offense. That will also make the job a heck of a lot easier for Malone, who is quickly becoming quite the potent quotable.
Let’s just go right ahead and state the obvious here: this is not your father’s Western Conference. Not anymore. Gone are the days of sophisticated battles of equal parts brains and brawn. Dead and buried are the cordial, gentlemanly competitions of X’s and O’s that generations prior enjoyed and romanticized. With the defection of no fewer than four current or former Eastern All-Stars this summer to what was already the NBA’s far superior conference, the era of all-out war is officially upon us. Blitzkrieg strikes will illuminate the heavens, campaigns of attrition will be waged, and rivers everywhere will run red with blood as what had previously been known as the West now makes way for the Wild Wild West. But instead of Buffalo Bill Cody and Wyatt Earp, this battle will be fought be a more familiar cast of characters. And what a privilege you and I will have to enjoy front row seats as hostilities commence in 2017-18.
Ladies and germs, may I present a comprehensive ranking of the 20 best players in the Western Conference (with sincerest apologies and honorable mentions to DeAndre Jordan, C.J. McCollum, Andrew Wiggins, and newly-christened Westerner Carmelo Anthony, all of whose respective nits proved impossible not to pick when wading through a talent pool this deep). This is part of a series, as we also ranked the 20 best players in the Eastern Conference previously.
20. Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies
When he’s not sashaying like Conor McGregor or slinging shade in Catalan, Gasol continues to further his standing as one of the more undervalued bigs in the NBA. The former Defensive Player of the Year quietly posted career-highs in points (19.5) and assists per game (4.6) last season while playing his usual stout D. Yes, Father Time’s kiss may not be far off with Gasol set to turn 33 in January. But for now, I say long live those paint-protecting fundamentals and them elegant sweeping hooks from the mid-post. Me encanta la Gasol-ina.
Less than two months after being traded by the Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is opening up about the end of his Denver days.
In an interview with NBA.com’s David Aldridge that ran on Monday, Nurkic spoke on a variety of topics, including losing his starting job to Nikola Jokic.
“Like I say, I’m totally fine,” said Nurkic. “The coach have decision, and the organization, who they want to be their guy. But it would be more fair (if) they say that when I start the season. I was asking them, ‘What are we going to do?,’ and they say we’re gonna play both. But I kind of learn in America, especially in this league, it changes overnight. So I have no issue with that.
“I know my time is going to come, especially if you work hard every time, it’s going to pay off,” continued the 22-year-old big man. “I believe in that, and I just keep waiting for my chance, and when chance comes, I’m supposed to be ready. And I’m really happy I come in a right place. I think I’m a perfect fit here [in Portland], and how it show right now, how it looks.”
The Nuggets did indeed experiment with a Jokic-Nurkic pairing at the start of the season before quickly realizing that the slow-footed duo was unplayable together, particularly on the defensive end. Denver ultimately chose Jokic as their guy, leaving a clearly frustrated Nurkic fighting for scraps and all but demanding a trade. He got his wish at the deadline when he was sent to Portland along with a first-rounder for Mason Plumlee and a second-rounder.
It’s difficult to fault the Nuggets for their decision, as Jokic has gone on to average an eye-popping 17.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game post-All-Star break. But Nurkic may have gotten the last laugh, as his 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game since being traded have Portland playoff-bound (ironically, getting the eighth seed in the West over none other than Denver), something that he has been quite happy to remind his old team of.