Nikola Jokic's frequent trips to the free-throw line became a central talking point, as the Denver Nuggets edged past the Golden State Warriors 120-114. Jokic, overcoming an off shooting day, made a significant impact by going a perfect 18 of 18 from the free-throw line.
His performance, contributing to his 26-point tally, sparked a discussion about the current state of NBA officiating and the role of defense in the game. Golden State coach Steve Kerr expressed his frustration, focusing on what he perceives as an imbalance in how the game is officiated.
“I have no problem with the officials themselves. I have a problem with the way we are legislating defense out of the game," Kerr said. His comments reflect a growing sentiment in the league that defensive efforts are not being rewarded as they once were.
Warriors' Struggles and Nuggets' Strategy
The Warriors, attempting to contain Jokic with Kevon Looney and rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis, found it challenging as the Nuggets' star compensated for his lack of field goals with aggressive play that led him to the line.
Jamal Murray, who led the game with 28 points, defended Jokic's approach, acknowledging the physicality he endures and the difficulty officials face in calling every foul. Stephen Curry of the Warriors added his perspective, noting the challenges posed by inconsistent officiating, especially in a physically intense game.
Curry, who scored 18 points, remarked on the game's changed complexion due to the frequent foul calls.
Game Highlights and Nuggets' Resilience
The game was closely contested, with nine lead changes in the second half. Jokic's crucial left-handed hook shot gave Denver a decisive lead with just over five minutes remaining.
The Nuggets' coach, Michael Malone, praised his team's performance, especially in closing out the fourth quarter. In addition to Jokic's standout performance, all five Denver starters scored in double figures. Michael Porter Jr.
and Aaron Gordon both posted double-doubles. For the Warriors, Andrew Wiggins returned from illness to contribute 22 points.