Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic was the first to admit Friday night’s game-winning play was built on a broken play.
Down 97-96 with 13 seconds left, after the Nuggets had already stormed back from a 21-point deficit, Jokic immediately regretted his dangerous entry pass to Paul Millsap.
“When I pass it, it was a bad pass, it was not even a sharp pass, it was a sloppy pass, so it was not a good pass, but he dribbled out,” Jokic said.
Added Millsap: “I saw the play before it happened. I knew he was going to throw the ball, so I was able to get in position. … There was no chance I was going up with the ball.”
Millsap kicked it out to Jokic, who had already scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, and buried the game-winning jumper amid a thicket of arms. By the time it was over and Jokic was embracing his teammates and courtside fans, he had outscored the entire Sixers team by three points in the fourth. He finished with a season-high 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
“I was hoping it was good, but you can never be 100 percent sure,” Jokic said, his final bucket sealing the thrilling 100-97 win over the Sixers.
The implications of that shot carried far more than just a notch in the victory column. Considering the week-long funk that had ensnared Jokic, it was a weight lifted off his broad shoulders.
The postgame locker room was light and breezy. Even Nuggets coach Michael Malone decided to crash Murray’s postgame press conference.
“Are those prescription glasses?” Malone interjected from the back of a spectacled Murray’s scrum. “All I know is you’ve come a long way in four years.”