Jokic registers another triple-double, 'phenomenal' Haliburton dishes out 20 assists

By Sports Desk December 29, 2023

Nikola Jokic registered another triple-double as the Denver Nuggets earned their sixth successive win on Thursday, while Tyrese Haliburton joined him in enjoying a big statistical night for the Indiana Pacers.

Jokic had 26 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in less than three quarters as the Nuggets recorded a 142-105 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, who were without the injured Ja Morant.

It was Jokic's 11th triple-double of the season, and he also shot 11-of-11 from the field and made all three of his free throws before exiting the game near the end of the third period.

Jokic now sits fourth in the NBA's all-time charts for triple-doubles with 116, behind Russell Westbrook (198), Oscar Robertson (181) and Magic Johnson (138).

Denver coach Michael Malone, however, says the Serbian is uninterested in individual accolades and was more concerned with ensuring the Nuggets continued their push at the top of the Western Conference.

"I don't know how many MVPs you could say this about, but Nikola doesn't care about how many shots he's getting," Malone told The Denver Post.

"He was 11-for-11 tonight. He doesn't care about that.  If Jamal [Murray] has got it going, he's clapping for Jamal. 

"He takes more joy in his team-mates' success than his own and that's the true definition of being selfless. He lives it every day."

Jokic himself said: "It's a miss and make game. Of course, sometimes you miss, sometimes you make. Today I made all my shots. There's not going to be a lot of those nights."

He was not the only player to enjoy a memorable outing on Thursday, with Pacers guard Haliburton scoring 21 points and adding a career-high 20 assists in a 120-104 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Having led by as many as 25 points, the Pacers found themselves 93-90 down in the fourth quarter before Haliburton took over, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to put his team ahead.

The 23-year-old then scored or assisted on Indiana's next 16 points as they improved to 16-14 with their second straight win.

Haliburton also avoided committing a single turnover, making him just the second player to record 20 points and 20 assists without a miscue in league history, after Chris Paul in 2016. 

However, he insisted his eye-catching figures were only made possible by his team-mates, saying: "I've done a terrible job taking care of the ball lately, so it was good to see zero turnovers again.

"You don't get 20 assists without guys making shots."

Center Myles Turner heaped praise upon Haliburton's performance, saying: "That's what he's been doing pretty much since he's been here.

"It's been phenomenal to watch, phenomenal to be a part of."

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