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HomeTop NewsNikola Jokic has career-worst shooting performance as Nuggets fall to Clippers in Jamal Murray’s return

Nikola Jokic has career-worst shooting performance as Nuggets fall to Clippers in Jamal Murray’s return

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No Lob City vintage magic this time for the Nuggets. Nine days after going into Los Angeles and beating the Clippers without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray or Aaron Gordon, the Nuggets lost 111-102 with all three in the lineup Wednesday. Denver (14-8) hosts the Rockets on Friday in another rescheduled game for teams eliminated from the in-season tournament.

Usually, when Nikola Jokic’s rest minutes are shaky for the Nuggets and the game is closer than they’d like, the two-time MVP re-enters the game and everything fixes itself. Not this time. Jokic missed more shots than he had ever missed in a single game in his NBA career, finishing 9-for-32 from the field including a stretch of nine consecutive misses in the second quarter, also matching a career-worst streak.

His night spiraled in spite of a promising start in the one area where he has struggled this season: the perimeter. His first two attempts of the game were made 3-pointers, seemingly getting him back on track (he entered the game at a career-low 30. 1% beyond the arc).

Ultimately, Jokic still registered his ninth triple-double of 2023-24 by picking up his 10th assist late in the game, but this was arguably his worst — or at minimum his least efficient — game in years. The way Denver rotates its lineups will inevitably have some impact on this — the bench unit carries the first few minutes of the second quarter — but there has been a trend of Michael Porter Jr. getting off to a hot start then falling off his scoring paces when he returns to the floor.

The latest: An 11-point first frame followed by a scoreless second in which he barely touched the ball. This time, he maintained his consistent touch whenever he had the chance, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds on 7-of-8 shooting. But for a heat-check scorer such as himself who’s at his best when he’s in a rhythm, his sudden all-to-nothing disappearances within a single half have been noticeable on several occasions this season.

Last Friday in Phoenix, he shot 5-for-6 in the first quarter for 10 points, then didn’t score in the second while attempting only one shot. Five days earlier against the Spurs, he had a line of 12-2-2 after one quarter then only added three points without another rebound in the second. In another premier game against Golden State, he had 10 in the first then two in the second on 1-of-4 shooting.

Sometimes it’s a matter of Porter going cold after resting, other times Denver maybe not involving him enough in the offense. But either way, when Porter gets going, ideally that should keep up. Not coincidentally, a 15-point Nuggets lead became a nine-point deficit in the second quarter Wednesday.

After missing the last two games and 13 of Denver’s last 14, Murray was back in the lineup, his hamstring and ankle injuries seemingly behind him. His encouraging night was a bright spot for the Nuggets, as he amassed 23 points and six assists with just one turnover. He played 22 minutes last week against Houston, but this time the Nuggets tested him a bit more with almost 30 minutes.

This was the Nuggets’ first game since Nov. 4 vs. Chicago that their full starting five played.

Both Murray and Aaron Gordon (heel strain) had missed recent games. Denver went with a 10-man lineup in its healthiest game in a month. .


From: denverpost
URL: https://www.denverpost.com/2023/12/06/nikola-jokic-worst-career-shooting-percentage-nuggets-clippers/

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