NBA

'Some joy, some smiles, some hugs' - Jokic return a perfect remedy for ailing Nuggets

By Sports Desk November 30, 2021

Nikola Jokic bounced back to Denver Nuggets duty as though he had never been away as the win at Miami Heat was described by coach Michael Malone as "a great pain reliever".

The superstar Serbian, MVP in the NBA last season, had missed four successive games because of a wrist injury amid Denver's six-game slide.

That was their worst such stretch since 2014-15 and saw them fall away after making a 9-4 start to the season, but prospects for Malone's men are looking up now that Jokic is fit.

After sinking the Heat 120-111 in Miami, there was a warm mix of emotion and relief in the Nuggets' locker room.

Jokic posted 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and seemingly that effort had changed everything.

Bones Hyland, the 21-year-old Nuggets point guard, shot a career-high 19 points including five three-pointers, and said: "It felt good going back into the locker room.

"I felt as though the guys were trying to win so bad just because Nikola was out. We know what he provides, and we were trying to fill his shoes and those are big shoes to fill.

"Him being back, everybody's a team now, playing through him, and it felt good for sure."

Malone had to search for the correct terminology to describe the post-game emotion.

"I don't know if relief is the right word, but there was definitely some joy, some smiles, some hugs," said the coach.

"As corny as that sounds, man, winning is a great pain reliever. We've all been down in the dumps and to get this win tonight kind of just stops all of that and allows us to get back to feeling good about ourselves."

He said playing without Jokic had been "a little bit different" to losing any other player.

Quoted on NBA.com, Malone struck an upbeat tone, saying: "I love the guys in the locker room. I'll go to war with them. Obviously, tonight was just one win. But after losing six in a row, by no means have we said, 'We're gonna change our goals now'. There's 62 games left, so much basketball to be played. So, you move on and play another day."

Jokic was not given an easy ride by the Miami crowd, facing boos every time he touched the ball due to the dust-up he and the Heat's Markieff Morris had in a November 8 game. Morris has missed 11 consecutive games since the incident.

He is big enough to handle such hostility though, saying afterwards: "I played in Serbia, so I wish you guys could feel that."

The 26-year-old Jokic is averaging 26.2 points, 13.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists this season, so ostensibly this was a par performance. How the Nuggets had missed him at his most routine though.

Jokic felt there was a collective improvement in the team, adding: "Everybody played well. We had seven players in double figures. So, everybody shared the ball. Everybody touched it."

Related items

  • Wolves confirm Hwang Hee-chan to join the club permanently Wolves confirm Hwang Hee-chan to join the club permanently

    South Korea international Hwang Hee-chan will join Wolves permanently at the end of the season, the Premier League club has confirmed.

    Hwang initially joined on a season-long loan from Bundesliga side RB Leipzig and agreed personal terms on a deal before arriving in England.

    Wolves have now activated a clause to make the move permanent from July for a fee reportedly in the region of £12million.

    The deal will run to 2026 and was confirmed by the club's website on the player's 26th birthday.

    The former Salzburg forward made an impactful start at Wolves, scoring four goals in his first six Premier League games, including his first strike just 20 minutes into his debut after coming off the bench in the 2-0 win at Watford in September.

    He has failed to find the net since scoring the opener in the 1-1 draw at Leeds United in October, however, and has not played since sustaining a hamstring injury in the 1-0 win at Brighton last month.

     

    Hwang first came to prominence at Salzburg during the 2019-20 season, playing in an attack that included Erling Haaland, Takumi Minamino and Patson Daka, before signing for RB Leipzig for around €9m in 2020.

    However, he only managed three goals and four assists in 29 appearances across all competitions for Die Roten Bullen – albeit only five of those were starts.

    Wolves technical director, Scott Sellars, was delighted to confirm the news and told the club's website: "He's had a really positive affect on not only the team, but also the whole football club, and he's been a fantastic addition to Wolves.

    "We could see straight from our first meeting with him that Hee-chan is such a focused and determined young man who wants to be successful in his football career.

    "He's not had the experiences he would have liked at Leipzig and he wanted a change, and he's grabbed his opportunity here in the Premier League with both hands. He's shown a lot of determination, a lot of focus and certainly a lot of professionalism every day, and he's got his rewards in terms of his performances and his goals."

  • Australian Open: Medvedev reveals Djokovic inspiration after stunning comeback Australian Open: Medvedev reveals Djokovic inspiration after stunning comeback

    Daniil Medvedev drew inspiration from Novak Djokovic in order to complete a storming comeback against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Australian Open.

    The Russian was two sets down and facing a quarter-final exit at the hands of his on-song opponent, but he dug deep to roar back and set up a last-four showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

    After sealing a memorable 6-7 (4-7) 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 6-4 victory under the roof on Rod Laver Arena, Medvedev revealed that asking himself what world number one Djokovic would do had provided the catalyst for his revival. 

    Asked how he managed to win a contest in which he had looked down and out, the US Open champion responded: "I have no idea.

    "Talking about the match point, I managed to serve well. If I had a second serve who knows what would have happened.

    "I was not playing my best. Felix served unbelievable; I was all over the place.

    "Then, I thought to myself, what would Novak do? So I said, 'I am going to make him work'.

    "I managed to raise my level and when they closed the roof I was able to go through momentum and I started playing better."

    Medvedev, who was beaten by Djokovic in last year's Melbourne final, faced a match point against Auger-Aliassime in the fourth set before finding his groove.

    He rode his luck at times, with Auger-Aliassime only converting two of his 11 break points as Medvedev improved his record in meetings between the pair to 4-0.

  • Australian Open: Medvedev fights back to win five-set thriller against Auger-Aliassime Australian Open: Medvedev fights back to win five-set thriller against Auger-Aliassime

    Daniil Medvedev came from two sets down to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime and reach the Australian Open semi-final.

    The world number two battled to a 6-7 (4-7) 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 6-4 victory in a thrilling contest on Rod Laver Arena, where 2021 runner-up Medvedev fended off a match point in the fourth set.

    He will now face Stefanos Tsitsipas in what is his second consecutive last-four outing at this tournament after improving his head-to-head record against Auger-Aliassime to 4-0.

    Medvedev and Auger-Aliassime met in the semi-finals of last year's US Open, when the former prevailed in straight sets en route to winning the title.

    But the Russian, beaten by Novak Djokovic in last year's final, was soon on the back foot in Melbourne, handing Auger-Aliassime a break point at 5-5 when he misjudged a shot that he thought was going out, but dropped in.

    Medvedev then compounded that error with a double fault, but Auger-Aliassime fluffed his own lines as he failed to serve out the set before redeeming himself in the tie-break.

    Auger-Aliassime continued that momentum in the second set, breaking in a mammoth second game after doggedly staying in a long rally before his opponent pushed a forehand wide.

    Facing a two-set deficit, Medvedev battled hard in the third as that too went to a tie-break, which he was leading 2-1 when rain arrived and forced the roof to be closed.

    He wasted little time getting the job done once play resumed, Auger-Aliassime finally showing signs of weakness as a couple of unforced errors sealed his fate in a one-sided breaker.

    Medvedev survived a match point at 5-4 down in the fourth and reeled off three games in a row as he began to combine power and precision to level matters and tee up a decider.

    After fending off three break points in his opening service game, it was Medvedev who broke decisively in game three to claim an advantage that he clung onto in the face of spirited resistance from his Canadian opponent.

    DATA SLAM: Medvedev continues head-to-head dominance

    This was the fourth meeting between these two and Medvedev had only previously lost one of eight sets.

    But it threatened to be a very different story on Wednesday before the US Open champion clicked into gear to continue his dominance of the pair's head-to-head record.

    Auger-Aliassime will be left to lament his failure to seize on a match-point opportunity as he converted only two of his 11 break points.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Medvedev – 49/53
    Auger-Aliassime – 64/75

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Medvedev  – 15/9
    Auger-Aliassime – 18/4

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Medvedev  – 3/5
    Auger-Aliassime – 2/11

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.