Nikola Jokic has become a more aggressive scorer because he was beaten with a pillowcase full of soda cans by Mike Malone, the Denver Nuggets coach joked.
Nuggets center Jokic had 27 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in three quarters as Denver cruised to a 119-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old has had at least a double-double in each of his 14 games this season and is averaging a triple-double of 25.1 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10 assists – all of which represent career highs.
Jokic's best scoring season was 2018-19 when he averaged 20.1 points per game, and Malone gave a light-hearted response when asked what has motivated the Serbian to become more prolific.
He replied: "I locked him in my office one day and I beat him with a pillowcase full of soda cans and I said: 'You've got to score more!'"
In a far more serious tone, Malone continued: "You know how he is, he's a great player, he's playing at an MVP level. You go back to tonight, 27, 12 and six, only one turnover.
"Early on they were playing him one-on-one, and sometimes I get frustrated because I don't think we give him the ball enough, especially when he's being guarded one-on-one.
"Nikola has seen every possible double-team, and so have we as a team. We space the floor correctly and he is so willing to find the open man, and we had great possessions against the double-team.
"He's always going to take what the defense gives him but he is being more aggressive, which is what we need from him."
The Nuggets are 10-2 against the Thunder since 2017-18, their best record against any Western Conference opponent in that span.
Denver's latest victory saw them improve to 7-7 on the season, but they are yet to hold a winning record this season after never being .500 or worse after their first game in the previous campaign.