Denver Nuggets superstar big man Nikola Jokic inbounded the ball during the final seconds of the fourth quarter, heaving a cross court pass, a whopping 85 feet to hit a wide-open Bruce Bowen who connected on a dunk to help the Nuggets seal a 128-123 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
“My guys had to be open,” Jokic said of what he called the “risky” pass, according to ESPN’s Kendra Andrews.
Warriors forward Draymond Green says that they were caught sleeping on Jokic’s inbound pass, blaming a lapse in communication.
“It’s an unfamiliar position for our guards. Guards don’t protect the basket,” Green said. “That’s something I could have communicated. I should have communicated that we got to make sure we have a man back, and that’s something we can learn from.”
Jokic poured in 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, his 77th career triple double, to lead Denver. With that, Jokic now has the second-most triple-doubles by a center in NBA history second to Wilt Chamberlain who had 78.
“Honestly, we have eight years together now and [nothing surprises me],” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “So many big games, so many moments when he’s made the big play, the right play and a game-changing type of play. … His IQ is off the charts. He’s out there playing chess, and a lot of other guys are playing checkers.”
“If you ask Bruce and Kenny Pope, from afar they probably admired Jokic’s passing from playing against him. But it’s different watching than now you’re with him,” Malone said. “He makes the game so easy, but you have to be ready.”
“Our second quarter was one of our best quarters in a long time against a quality opponent,” Malone said. “But down the stretch, there are so many things we need to clean up. … But it’s a hell of a win. We can savor it for about two and a half hours on the plane, and then tomorrow night we have our home opener.”