NBA 2018-19: 3 Talking Points from the Denver Nuggets' win over the Charlotte Hornets
With Cody Zeller out for weeks owing to a fractured hand and the subsequent surgery, the Hornets had a tall task at hand when they flew into Denver to face the Nuggets. The Joker greeted them with one of his memorable performances of the season so far, much to the delight of the home crowd at the Pepsi Center, as the Nuggets bested the Hornets for a 123-110 victory.
The tough defeat to the West leaders meant that the Hornets have now lost two in a row. They have tasted victory only four times in the last ten games and thus fall to 9.5 games behind the East leaders in the Milwaukee Bucks. They are currently residing down at the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference with an 18-20(0.474) win-loss record.
On the other hand, the Denver Nuggets are soaring right now, 1.5 games clear of the second-best Golden State & OKC out West. They have won eight of their last ten matchups and this was their fifth win in a row. As of now, Denver sits at the zenith of the West leaderboard, with a blazing 26-11(0.703) win-loss record next to their name.
Let's draw out some key takeaways from this Nuggets home win over the hapless Charlotte Hornets.
#1 Nikola Jokic showed why he is one of the best big men in the league
Nikola Jokic is turning out to be as complete a center for his team as there has ever been. He is averaging a double-double of 18.8 ppg and 10.0 rpg on the season, along with dishing out an exceedingly high 7.5 dimes per game for a man his size.
Against the Hornets in this one, he gave us a glimpse of how good he can be on any given night as he finished with an imposing double-double outlined by a game-high total of 39 points and 12 rebounds.
He played the most minutes(34) than anybody on his team, shooting 16-of-29 from the floor(his 29 shot attempts being season-high). On the defensive end, he contributed with three steals and a blocked shot, all this while committing just two turnovers in the game.
"You try to play him straight up, he's going to do what he wants," Hornets guard Malik Monk said of Nikola Jokic. "We just tried to play him straight up and he just exploited us on that. He's a great player. I can't say anything bad about him."
This was Jokic's fourth 20+ point performance in the last five games.