Nuggets’ comeback falls short of jazz despite Nikola Jokic’s triple-double – The Denver Post

The Nuggets are flirting with a comeback, and Nikola Jokic is hanging on to a miracle.

That hope, despite Jokic’s seventh triple-double of the season, has never met reality.

The Jazz stormed Ball Arena on Wednesday and grabbed a 115-109 win over the exhausted Nuggets. The night of Jokic’s 26 points, 21 rebounds and 11 assists went in vain because he could not get the help he needed.

“26, 21 and 11, and you lose,” said acting Nuggets coach Popeye Jones. “You feel it for him. I think I’ve said it several times since I sat here. Most superstars would not accept it. … He’s a special guy.

Donovan Mitchell (17 points) was largely kept in check, but sniper Bojan Bogdanovic pummeled the Nuggets for 36 points.

A Monte Morris 3-pointer trimmed the backlog to just 94-91 with 7:21 left in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as they could get. Morris was sensational after missing three consecutive games due to health and safety protocols. He finished with 20 points and five 3-pointers from the bench.

The Nuggets fell to 18-18 on the season with another game Friday at home against Sacramento.

Mitchell cut his way in to score a 20-9 run to open the third quarter and extend Utah’s lead to 77-65. But Jokic, in addition to several inconsistent lineups, looked into the shortcoming with his patented work inside. He was helped by the fact that Rudy Gobert missed Wednesday’s game, but he did not shrink in the face of double- and, sometimes, three-teams.

He picked up 12 points in the quarter alone, while the Nuggets struggled insufficiently to stay close. However, the Jazz took an 88-78 lead in the fourth.

Prior to the match, Jones acknowledged that Aaron Gordon’s recent problem had to do with “overuse”, but maintained that he was good enough to play north of 30 minutes.

“I think it bothered him a little bit,” Jones said. “Guys, they keep playing …”

Gordon did not seem to be bothered in the least. With his trademark physique, he hit 13 points on 6-of-6 shots in the first two quarters. His presence from within changed the weight of the Nuggets’ attack, and helped combat the multiple Utah crime.

Jones had a healthy respect for the Jazz, who led the league in scoring (116 points per game) and 3 points (15.1) on Wednesday.

“They’ve been playing together for a while, and when you look at them, you just see the continuity with which they play,” he said. “The way they move and play the ball. It’s actually a fun thing to watch. I just need to figure out how to slow it down a bit.”

In 18 minutes of the first half, Jokic controlled almost every aspect of the game. With 10 points and 10 rebounds, he went just three assists to the locker room.

Without his dominance, which was in part a product of Utah’s bright interior, the Nuggets would never have kept pace with the Jazz, who buried 10 3s in the first half for a 57-56 lead at the time.

But Jokic’s complimented game, specifically with Facu Campazzo, was special. The two ran an elite pick-and-roll, combining for 11 assists in the first half and numerous highlight-reel dimes.

Even more remarkable is the audience of Ball Arena tuned in to the gift of Jokic. During one pass to Austin Rivers in the corner, the audience buzzed to see their appreciation.

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