HOUSTON, March 1 (US): When Nikola Jokic was given the ball of the game by Denver head coach Michael Malone after hitting his career triple-double, Malone said the star looked almost embarrassed by the gesture.
“He’s a unique person who doesn’t want any attention or recognition,” said Malone. “He just wants to do his job and help this team win their first championship.”
Jokic scored 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his NBA-leading 24 triple-win of the season and his 15th in his last 20 game, and the Nuggets beat the Houston Rockets 133-112 Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported.
The Nuggets have won every game they’ve hit a triple-double this season and 28 in a row dating back to last season. Jamal Murray added 32 points.
Needing just three quarters to go, Jokic became the sixth player in league history with 100 triple-doubles, as the big man finished fourth and got out of hand.
He seemed unfazed by the achievement, describing it as “nice” and when pressed to note the infrequency of what he had just done, fell back on the team.
“I appreciated the way we played,” he said. “That’s what I appreciate. But all the achievements, let’s say, trophies, contracts or whatever, I don’t want to say it comes naturally but you don’t chase it. It’s really nice. I think it’s even better when you finish (your) career and take a look behind you to see what you’ve done.”
He joins Russell Westbrook (198), Oscar Robertson (181), Magic Johnson (138), Jason Kidd (107) and LeBron James (106) as the only players to achieve the feat.
“I think for all of us in Denver I challenge myself to do this, not to take him for granted, not to take his greatness for granted,” Malone said.
“Because I grew up in this business…and things can change quickly, so I make sure I appreciate everything he does.
“And to be remembered with all these historic accomplishments just reminds you that we are very lucky to have a man like Nicolas, as talented as he is, who accomplishes all these things on the field, but the most important and most impressive thing about Nicolas is that he is so humble.”
The miserable Rockets came through with a balanced offense by the Nuggets, a game after he allowed Damian Lillard to score a career-high 71 points in a loss to the Trail Blazers on Sunday.
Michael Porter Jr. added 17 points and put Bruce Brown 15 off the bench to help the Nuggets win their second straight and sixth in their last seven games.
Jalen Green scored 17 points in his return after missing two games with a strained left groin and freshman Terry Eason scored 17 points as the Rockets lost for the 10th straight time.
Green said seeing how a team like Denver plays can help the Rockets learn how to be better.
“They move the ball a lot,” he said. “Moving without the ball, moving around. A lot of times we get stagnant and just watch who has the ball. They never do that. That’s something we can take from them.”
Denver, who leads the Western Conference, never trailed Houston and dominated most of the night. The Nuggets drove as many as 26 and were up 106-84 in the fourth quarter.
Denver was ahead by 20 with about nine minutes left in the game when Malone pulled out the rest of his starts and removed the bench.
The Nuggets led 20 at halftime and extended the lead to 86-60 with about 8 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter after a 6-0 lead, with the last four points coming from Porter. Then the Rockets went 11-5, buoyed by seven points from Green, to close to 91-71 midway through the quarter.
Denver started to lead again after that, using an 8-2 surge to make it 99-73 two minutes later.