Nuggets coach Malone hails 'phenomenal' Jokic

By Peter Hanson 4 December 2018 5
Nuggets coach Malone hails 'phenomenal' Jokic

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone hailed Nikola Jokic's "phenomenal" showing in the 106-103 beating of the Toronto Raptors and believes the giant centre still has another gear to go to.

Jokic chalked up a triple-double of 23 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds as the Nuggets snapped the Raptors' eight-game winning streak and stretched their own to six.

Malone believes that prior to the Nuggets defeating the Eastern Conference leaders, who have the best record in the NBA this season, Jokic's figures were below his expected returns.

"He's made 23-15-11, phenomenal job," Malone, whose team top the Western Conference, told reporters. 

"It's funny, I was looking at his stats the last five games, we won five in a row, he was averaging 12 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, but his field goal percentage, three-point percentage are not what we expect from Nikola. 

"What I love about Nikola and our team is that even though he's not playing maybe the best he's capable of we're still finding ways to win, still relying on defence, and he's finding ways to impact the team other ways than shooting and that's the sign of a good team. 

"When you can find ways to win games when your best player is struggling a little bit I'm happy about that."

Malone expressed disappointment for Gary Harris, with the guard exiting late in the first quarter due to a groin injury that requires an MRI scan having missed a couple of games with a sore ankle.

"The one thing I feel awful about is Gary Harris," he added. 

"We definitely have Gary in our thoughts. He's frustrated, just coming back from injury, not being able to come back tonight, he's a big loss."

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Peter Hanson