Last night Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets emerged as the unlikely hero. With just three seconds left on the clock in a tie game, coach Michael Malone devised a play that initially targeted Jamal Murray. However, with Murray and second-choice Kentavious Caldwell-Pope unavailable, Aaron Gordon passed the ball to Jokic.
The Nuggets’ star player, making a remarkable half-court journey, culminated in a stunning 40-footer over Kevon Looney from the right sideline. This incredible shot banked in as time expired, sealing a spectacular 130-127 victory for the Nuggets against the Golden State Warriors.
This game was a rollercoaster of emotions, with the Nuggets trailing by 18 points in the fourth quarter before rallying with a 25-4 run. Jokic, with his 34 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds, was instrumental in this comeback.
He tied the game at 127 with a short jumper with just 26 seconds left. Golden State’s final possession ended in a turnover by Stephen Curry, setting the stage for Jokic’s game-winning play.
#NikolaJokic #gamewinningshot #3pointer vs #Warriors #sports #BANG
the defending #champion #DenverNuggets ended the game on a 23-4 run over the #goldenstatewarriors and #nikolajokic put them away with this #beautiful 3 point shot #NBA #highlights #basketball #hoops #ball pic.twitter.com/JeXdlz1laU — Keenan (@TrillaKayy) January 5, 2024
The Final Seconds: A Closer Look at Jokic's Winning Shot
With the game hanging in the balance, Nikola Jokic's exceptional play was set in motion by Aaron Gordon’s inbound pass.
Jokic, taking only three dribbles, launched an audacious 39-foot 3-pointer over Warriors’ Kevon Looney. From the Nuggets bench, the shot's trajectory seemed perfect.
“As it left his hands, all the coaches in the back were saying, 'That's on line.Jokic himself had a sense of certainty about the shot.
That's going in,'" recounted Nuggets coach Michael Malone. Peyton Watson shared his intuition about the shot, saying, “I knew Joker was going to hit that shot”.
“I just took a shot. I think those shots are the easiest shots to take. You don't have any other options. So actually, when I felt it, I thought, 'Oh, I'm going to bank this,'” Jokic explained.Despite trailing by 18 points heading into the fourth quarter, the Nuggets maintained their composure, backed by a solid strategy and resilient mindset.
They were prepared for the Warriors' onslaught, especially after a high-scoring first half. Gordon emphasized the team’s positive mindset, focusing on "one stop, one score" to gradually level the playing field. Coach Malone expressed pride in how his team weathered the Warriors’ aggressive third-quarter play.
“Our backs are against the ball. We have to go now,” Malone said, highlighting the shift in the team’s approach to become the aggressor.The Nuggets’ defensive prowess was particularly evident in the fourth quarter, with Jokic applauding the team's effort.
“The defense was amazing in the fourth. We didn't want to give up...They scored just four points. That's really, really good defense, especially against that team,” Jokic praised.
A Resilient Nuggets Team Defeats the Warriors
The Nuggets, the defending champions, have been on a formidable run, winning 11 of their last 13 games and extending their road winning streak to six.
This victory was particularly significant as it handed the Warriors — who have been struggling to maintain consistency — a disappointing start to their seven-game homestand. Golden State, despite showing promise in the third quarter with a 44-24 scoreline and leading by double digits early in the half, could not sustain their momentum.
This game adds to a series of losses this season where the Warriors have squandered double-digit leads. For Denver, Aaron Gordon contributed significantly with 30 points, and Jamal Murray added 25. On the Warriors’ side, Curry led with 30 points, and Klay Thompson contributed 24.
Despite the loss, the Warriors showed resilience, particularly in the third quarter, but it was not enough to withstand the Nuggets' late surge. The game showcased the Nuggets' tenacity and ability to perform under pressure, particularly on the road and against a formidable opponent.
Malone expressed pride in his team's response to the challenge, praising their ability to stay focused and aggressive despite being significantly behind. This victory, especially in such dramatic fashion, underscores the Nuggets' status as a top contender in the league and highlights the remarkable talent and poise of Nikola Jokic.
Just seconds before Jokic’s climactic shot, a pivotal defensive play unfolded. Jamal Murray intercepted a cross-court pass from Stephen Curry, a move that Jokic lauded for its anticipation. Although Malone attempted to call a timeout immediately, it was not granted until after Murray had dribbled, leading to the inbounds play that set up the final shot.
Malone had three plays in mind, with the last resort being Gordon passing to Jokic. Despite the high-pressure situation, there was no panic, especially from Jokic. Malone acknowledged Jokic's exceptional ability to deliver under pressure.
“Nikola lives for those moments. And it's great and joyful to watch a player of his talent go out there and make the plays that he makes,” Malone said. This game not only showcased the Nuggets' tenacity and skill but also highlighted their strategic acumen and the ability to perform under immense pressure. Jokic’s game-winner was a testament to his prowess and the team's collective resilience and determination.