Nikola Jokic’s jumper with 1.2 seconds left brought a massive win for his Denver Nuggets over the Philadelphia 76ers. The fans at the Pepsi Center saw their favorites coming back after trailing 21 points in the final period, to reach a 100-97 victory. It was the biggest comeback for the hosts at Pepsi Center in the history.
Jokic wasn’t the primary guy to finish that game-winning attack. He first passed the ball to Paul Millsap, who was well covered under the rim by Embiid and Richardson. The former Atlanta Hawk would then pass the ball towards the Joker, who made an off-balance shot and was maybe even under a foul.
“Nikola is a constant source of discussion, he’s our best player. Tonight he was phenomenal, on both ends of the floor,” said Nuggets head coach Mike Malone.
Once Jokic hit that bucket, it was only the second time in this game that the Nuggets had a lead. Throughout the entire game, the guests from Philly controlled the flow of the clash, and were ahead, often by a double-digit margin. They would end the opening period with a 24-18 lead, and continue to pound the hosts in the next sequence. Philly increased the lead steadily, not allowing the Nuggets to have any of their characteristic surges or series of downtown shots.
Jokic was well guarded, which provided a lot of frustration for the All-NBA First Team center. The Serb went off in the first period, after not getting a call on an obvious foul, and the officials decided to give him a tech. At the break, his Denver was behind 15 points, 57-42.
The second half began with Mike Malone’s team giving some signs of life, and they managed to come down to just 6 points, 67-61. It seemed that the Nuggets have finally caught the rhythm, but that turned out to be wrong. In no time, the 76ers were once again too far. When Mike Scott scored two points on the first possession of the final period, the guests led 21 points, 86-65.
And from that moment on, they’ve managed to get 11 points, while on the other side, Denver poured 35. Nuggets responded with 10 unanswered points, from which Jokic posted 7. The big guy had 16 points in that sequence.
Denver simply couldn’t be stopped. Following his game-winner, Jokic and the company played good defense, drawing a foul from Embiid, to close this event.
Nuggets were 14 of 23 from the field in the final 12 minutes and had five threes in seven attempts. Meanwhile, Philly made just 5 of their 21 shots.
“We just had that never-quit mentality, and one basket at a time, one stop at a time, and the way you do that is by holding teams with 12 points, 20% from the field, 13% from the three-point line,” said Malone about that performance in the final quarter.
In the end, the Joker finished the game with 26 buckets, 10 boards, and 6 assists, along with two steals and blocks apiece. Jamal Murray had 22 and 11 dimes, plus 6 boards; Will Barton had 20 and 7 rebounds. Paul Millsap added 15.
For the guests, Joel Embiid posted a strong double-double with 19 buckets and 15 boards, Tobias Harris and Raul Neto had 13, but Harris had 10 rebounds, while Furkan Korkmaz added 12 points.
The 76ers (5-3) are not heading back home to meet the Charlotte Hornets this Sunday, while Nuggets have to visit Minnesota and face the Timberwolves.