NBA

'That's Magic Johnson!' – Malone revels in Jokic's 'pizazz'

By Sports Desk January 13, 2024

Michael Malone revelled in another brilliant display from Nikola Jokic after the Denver Nuggets talisman starred against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jokic finished with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds to record his 10th career triple-double against the Pelicans in a 125-113 home victory for Denver on Friday.

The highlight of the two-time MVP's performance was a blind, behind-the-back, over-the-head pass towards the end of the first half, which Aaron Gordon latched onto at the rim.

And coach Malone saw echoes of NBA great Magic Johnson in Jokic's moment of brilliance.

He said: "I didn't imagine the behind-the-back, over-the-head pass.

"When you’re a young kid watching NBA basketball, that's Magic Johnson, that's 'Pistol' Pete Maravich, the guys that just had this pizazz to their game.

"Nikola can beat you a lot of ways and that was definitely one of the best passes I've seen him make."

Jokic explained: "I just saw him for a blink of an eye, and I just wanted to pass to him as soon as I can.

"Because he's open in that moment, not a moment after that. So, that was the quickest way to pass him the ball."

Reflecting on the Nuggets' performance as they bounced back from a defeat to the Utah Jazz, Jokic, who has now had 12 triple-doubles this season and is shooting 79.3 percent over his last eight games, added: "We played a little bit faster, I think.

"We were the ones who were aggressive. We pushed the pace. I think that was the difference."

Zion Williamson scored 30 points for the Pelicans, but New Orleans was left to lament a poor start in which the Nuggets scored 37 points.

Pelicans coach Willie Green said: "They got off to an early start in this building.

"They had a 37-point first quarter to 25, now it's an uphill battle the rest of the game. That's something they do well.

"They get off to early starts and then they played with a lead. We've got to be better starting a game."

The Nuggets (27-13) are third in the Western Conference, four spots ahead of the Pelicans (23-16). Denver has a 16-4 record at home going into their next game against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

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