Nikola Jokic continues to strengthen his grip on the first place of the Kia Race towards the MVP Ladder.
In a game against the New York Knicks and compatriot Kia MVP Julius Randle on Wednesday, Jokic wasted no time in establishing his dominance. Racking up a career-high 24 points in the first quarter, Jokic connected with a scorching 8 for 9 from the floor and 8 for 10 from the free throw line as Denver built a 24 point lead in course. to a 113-97 victory.
Jokic’s scorching first quarterback was the most points he has scored in any quarter of his career, and the most points in a single frame for a Denver player since Emmanuel Mudiay racked up 24 points in a quarter in 2016.
“When you have as many guys as we do, we need Nikola to be aggressive,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “So for him he is 32 years old [points] and 12 [rebounds] with six assists, two more interceptions and two more blocks in just 29 minutes is a very effective night. “
Let’s not forget that Denver continues to play without two starters and his sixth man, which apparently gives Jokic one more reason to speed up production. With Jokic in the lead, the Nuggets stay in the thick of it with the LA Clippers for the No. 3 in the Western Conference.
“When he goes like that you get to relax,” Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. said. “Honestly, we throw it at him, and we relax; let it go to work. No great man in the NBA can keep it one-on-one. So we let him go to work. We like it when he’s aggressive like that. When he scores at will, we love it.
Jokic maintains his NBA lead this season in doubles-doubles with 56 in 66 outings, and the veteran tall man threw four dunks in the first quarter of Wednesday’s win over the Knicks.
“It was just a great example and a reinforcement of why Nikola Jokic is the MVP,” said Malone. “In order for us to do what we do, you have to have a great player, and we have him. We have a lot of very good players around him, but Nikola has set the tone tonight.
And now, the Top 5 this week in the 2020-21 Kia race in the MVP standings:
1. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Ranking last week: # 1
Season stats: 26.4 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 8.4 apg, 1.4 spg
It looks like the price is all but locked in for Jokic, who continues to elevate Denver’s supporting cast night after night. Jokic has produced 13 games this season with 30 or more points and over 10 rebounds, which is a franchise record in one season. He led the Nuggets in points, rebounds and assists in 22 games this season. Antetokounmpo made it in 21 games during his 2018-19 Kia MVP season, while Russell Westbrook chained 40 such games when he won the award for the 2016-17 season. “He’s the MVP” new addition from Nuggets Austin Rivers said. Perhaps.
2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Ranking last week: # 2
Season statistics: 29.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.4 bpg
Embiid destroyed the Houston Rockets on Wednesday for 34 points and 12 rebounds in just 25 minutes as the Sixers claimed their sixth straight victory. The game marked the 15th of Embiide Game 30 points and 10 rebounds this season, which ranks second in 2020-2021 only to Giannis Antetokounmpo (who has 16 of those games). Embiid averaged a double-double in three games in May. The way Embiid and Jokic continue to perform in this big-man duel for Kia MVP is catching the attention of Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon, who thinks it’s time for the prize to go back to the players dominating the paint.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Last ranking of the week: n ° 3
Season statistics: 28.4 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 5.9 apg
What a week for Antetokounmpo. He beat Kevin Durant 49-42 on Sunday in a win over Brooklyn, to follow it two days later with 36 points and 12 rebounds in another win over the Nets. The win put Milwaukee within striking distance of the Nets in the Eastern Conference standings, but keep in mind the Bucks own the team tiebreaker. Antetokounmpo then helped the Bucks capture their fourth consecutive victory Wednesday at the back of a back to back. Check out this moving interview with big Bucks broadcaster Jim Paschke to get a little more insight into the personal side of Antetokounmpo.
4. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns
Last ranking of the week: n ° 4
Season stats: 16.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 8.8 apg, 1.4 spg
Celebrated his 36e birthday Thursday – check out LeBron James’ birthday note to Paul on Instagram – a day after struggling during a night of 3-on-11 shooting in a 135-103 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Prior to that setback, the Suns had won five in a row largely thanks to Paul’s leadership and clutch play in close games. Heading into Friday’s game against the Knicks, the Suns appear to have a solid grip on second place in the West as they sit three games ahead of the Nuggets in the standings.
5. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Ranking last week: # 5
Season stats: 28.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 8.9 apg, 1.0 spg
The Mavs earned their fifth victory in six outings as Doncic shrugged after a difficult night shot (7 of 22 from the field) to lead his team with 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a 113-109 triumph. on the Brooklyn Nets (overcome a 45-point night from Kyrie Irving). “It was one of the worst games I’ve played, but we got a win,” Doncic said. Doncic is averaging career highs in assists (8.9), 3-point percentage (35.7%) and field-goal percentage (48.4%), but he needs to keep performing everything. throughout the regular season to keep the Lakers and Trail Blazers from overtaking his team in the standings.
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The next five:
6. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
7. Stephen Curry, Warriors of the Golden State
8. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
9. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
ten. Julius Randle, New York Knicks
And five more: Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers; Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards; LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers; Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz; Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets.
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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can send him an e-mail here, find his archives here and follow him on Twitter.
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