Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic comes out tops in Slavic battle
Serb's late lay-up helps Nuggets defeat Doncic's Mavericks in battle of two of the top young teams
Nikola Jokic made a clutch go-ahead lay-up with eight seconds left and finished with 33 points, as the Denver Nuggets outduelled Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks 107-106 yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Jokic also had seven assists, while Jerami Grant scored 15 points and Jamal Murray chipped in 14 in the match-up of two of the top young teams in the NBA's Western Conference.
"We lost one at home against them before. It was a long time ago, but we wanted to get this game back. We needed a lot of focus and energy because it is the last game of our road trip," said Serbia's Jokic.
Slovenia's Doncic flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Dwight Powell scored 16, Tim Hardaway added 15 and Seth Curry had 14 for the Mavericks.
Dallas played their fifth straight game without starter Kristaps Porzingis, who has a knee injury. Denver were without two starters, guard Will Barton (personal reasons) and Paul Millsap (knee).
Late in the fourth quarter, Dorian Finney-Smith nailed a three-pointer and Hardaway hit a basket to give hosts Dallas a 106-101 lead.
Jokic then made a shot in the lane and Grant drained two free-throws to make it 106-105 with 87 seconds remaining.
Denver got the ball back with 23 seconds left and Jokic drove for a lay-up with eight seconds left. The Mavericks called for a time-out, following which, the Nuggets trapped Doncic to force him to pass and the defence prevented Dallas from getting a shot off before the final buzzer.
Jokic said they won because they were able to keep the ball out of Doncic's hands at the end of the game.
"He had 27 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists, but we made it a little harder for him, especially at the end," he said.
"We double-teamed him and made someone else make a play. He passed to the corner and they lost the ball. It was great defence by us."
TRIPLE-DOUBLES IN ATLANTA
Elsewhere, James Harden scored 41 points en route to his second triple-double of the season as the visiting Houston Rockets beat the Atlanta Hawks 122-115.
Harden had a sub-par shooting night - making only nine of 34 - but was 19 of 23 from the line with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
It was Harden's 44th career triple-double and his 15th 40-point triple-double, the second-most in NBA history.
The Hawks trailed by as many as 23 in the second quarter, but cut the lead to 118-115 with 18 seconds left.
Harden made four free-throws over the final 10.4 seconds to hand Houston their sixth straight win over Atlanta.
The Hawks wasted a triple-double from Trae Young, who finished with 42 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. It was Young's sixth 40-point game and his second triple-double of the season.
It was the first 40-point triple-double in Hawks history.
It was also the first time in NBA history that there were two 40-point triple-doubles in the same game. - AFP, REUTERS
SELECTED RESULTS: Boston 114 San Antonio 129, Charlotte 110 Toronto 112 (OT), Indiana 108 Miami 122, Golden State 98 Milwaukee 107