Jokic notches triple-double as Nuggets rout Clippers 121-100
By PAT GRAHAM
DENVER (AP) Nikola Jokic wowed his teammates with a perfect full-court pass that led to a dunk and by tossing a pass to himself off the backboard for a layup.
The Denver Nuggets big man was the one wide-eyed after the game when he met Broncos pass rusher Von Miller and exchanged jerseys.
Another eventful evening for Jokic.
The player nicknamed Joker finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists for his 21st career triple-double to help the Western Conference-leading Nuggets extend their home winning streak to 11 by cruising past the Los Angeles Clippers 121-100 on Thursday night.
"Another triple-double," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "The guy continues to amaze."
Jokic did a little bit of everything, including the pass of the night when he lofted a full-length strike over a defender to Jamal Murray for a dunk in the third quarter.
"He could play for NFL teams the way he passes the ball," Malone said.
Later, Jokic picked up his dribble on a play, saw the path through the lane was clear, banked it off the glass to himself and put it in. It was something he had never tried in a game before.
And no, he wasn't thinking slam.
"I knew he wasn't going to dunk it," Murray cracked. "It was a smart move. It was a great play."
This capped off the night: Jokic and Miller exchanging jerseys.
"It means a lot. I watched him a lot," Jokic said. "He's a beast. He's someone that can't be stopped."
These days, the same can be said of Jokic, who was coming off a game in Miami on Tuesday in which he had 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
"He's just a great player," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Murray scored 23 points and Mason Plumlee added a season-high 17 points to go with 12 rebounds for the Nuggets. They're now 17-3 at home.
Denver built the lead to 102-81 with 9:03 remaining on a jumper by Monte Morris. The Clippers made a little run, but Morris silenced it with a 3-pointer.
"They just kicked our butt from the beginning," said Tobias Harris, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds. "Their intensity and pace, we were kind of on our heels with all night. We've got to respect that especially from a team that's No. 1 in the West."
Gallinari received applause from the crowd when he was announced. He joined the Clippers last season after a bulk of his career in Denver. He was limited to 21 games with Los Angeles in 2017-18 due to injuries and didn't suit up when the Clippers played in the Mile High City.
"It was a good feeling to see a lot of my friend and people that I know," Gallinari said. "But honestly I was just focused on the game plan and trying to play my game and trying to help the team."
Clippers: F Luc Mbah a Moute remains out with a sore left knee.
Nuggets: G Gary Harris missed his second straight game with tightness in his left hamstring. ... F Juancho Hernangomez has been dealing with an injury. Earlier this season, he dealt with an abdominal strain. "If it gets to a point we have to shut him down for a bit, we'll do so," Malone said.
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley was ejected in the fourth quarter for arguing.
Asked what he may have said, Rivers responded: "I was in the huddle. I think he said I love you."
Jokic, who's from Serbia, currently sits in seventh place among Western Conference frontcourt players in the All-Star voting by fans. Dallas rookie and Slovenian native Luka Doncic is second, with fans counting for 50 percent of the vote to determine the starters.
"Obviously, a lot of fans in Slovenia are voting and not enough fans in Serbia are voting," Malone cracked.
Clippers: Begin a four-game homestand Saturday against Detroit.
Nuggets: At Phoenix on Saturday before hosting Portland the following night.
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Updated January 11, 2019