DENVER (AP) – Already a triple-double threat on the floor, Denveris prepared to raise his game in yet another category – leadership. Anything to help out after losing point guard and vocal leader Jamal Murray for the season due to a torn ACL in his .
Jokic‘s first decree to his teammates: Concentrate on the task at hand. Because nothing changes, even if the odds may say so. The Nuggets’ stock as a contender in the Western Conference took a hit after Murray’s knee injury. Once +1400 favorites, the Nuggets are now +1600, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. title, too, only to slip to +3000.
Go ahead and count them out, Jokic said. They relish this sort of role.
“I’ve been an underdog my whole life,” Jokic said after a 123-106on Wednesday in their first game after Murray tore his ACL. “I’m used to it. It’s a normal position for me. We’re going to miss (Murray) as a team. He’s a of our team. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to quit.” This was a Nuggets squad riding high after trading for an athletic forward
Aaron Gordon in late March. They were clicking on all cylinders, too, rattling off eightand looking every bit like a force in the West. Then, a home loss to Boston in which they were outscored 31-8 in the fourth quarter. No big deal; the Nuggets had Murray about to return at on Monday after missing four games with a sore right knee. Late in the loss to the Warriors, Murray tried to elevate off his as he drove to the basket, crumpled to the floor in pain, and grabbed his knee.
There went any chance of a deep playoff run.
“Whoever says that, that’s them,” said Nuggets forward and 3-point threat Michael Porter Jr., whose team plays in Houston on Friday night. “We never pay attention to them in the first place. We pay attention to what we believe. That’s it. … The goal is the same. I think we still have the talent to do it.”
It all centers around Jokic, the do-everything 7-footer who’s inserted himself in the MVP conversation by averaging 26 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 8.8 assists.
“He’s got to be the guy that rights the ship and times before.because that’s what MVPs do,” coach Michael Malone said. “Nikola, because he’s that great of a player and has that leadership quality within him, I expect him to understand that and start handling these situations in a manner he’s shown many
“It will be a terrific opportunity to handle a tough situation – for Nikola and his teammates. It’s not just on him.” Malone reiterated theinto Murray, who averaged 21.2 points and 4.8 assists. Morris only to be himself.
The same goes for backups Facundo Campazzo and PJ Dozier. Be themselves.
“Don’t go out there and try to be something you’re not. Be true to yourself and bring it every night,” Malone said. “Play hard, compete, play with discipline, play with effort, and on both ends of the floor. If they do that, we’ll have a chance towithout Jamal.”
Jokic was impressed with how the Nuggets played in a bounce-back win over the Heat. They outrebounded the Heat by a 43-30 margin, dished out 32 assists, and had six players score ten or more points.
That’s the sort of effort that may garner national attention again.
Or maybe not.
“No one ever gives us a chance, and we’re fine with that. I think we thrive in that element,” Malone said. “We’re underdogs. If they want to talk about the other teams, let them talk about them.”
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