Two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic delivered an epic triple-double to give Denver an overtime triumph on Sunday while Jayson Tatum powered NBA-best Boston to victory.
Serbian 27-year-old superstar center Jokic scored 41 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and passed off 15 assists to spark the Nuggets over visitors Phoenix 128-125.
Jokic’s point total, coming on 16-of-25 shooting from the floor, was the largest for any Christmas triple-double in NBA history.
“It’s nice. It’s just one game,” Jokic said. “Everybody can have one good game.”
It was Jokic’s 83rd career triple-double and his seventh of this season.
The victory gave the Nuggets (21-11) a one-game Western Conference lead over Memphis, who lost Sunday at defending champions Golden State, and New Orleans.
“We keep fighting,” Jokic said of the comeback victory. “We have a lot of guys who can play. I’m just happy that we are winning. We’re playing really good.”
Denver’s Aaron Gordon added 28 points, many on high-leaping slam dunks, and 13 rebounds while Jamal Murray had 26 points.
Murray’s dunk with 11 seconds remaining in regulation sent the game to overtime tied at 113-113, while a late dunk and free throw in overtime by Gordon helped seal Denver’s triumph.
“It was a crazy game, a lot of up and down, a lot of runs for both teams,” Jokic said. “I think it’s supposed to be easier game for us. We got the win. That’s the most important thing.”
Reserve Landry Shamut scored 31 points to lead Phoenix, who lost star Devin Booker to a groin injury after playing only four minutes.
At Boston, Tatum matched Jokic with 41 points to lead the Celtics over Milwaukee 139-118 in a showdown of the league’s two top clubs.
Jaylen Brown added 29 points for the Celtics, who improved to 24-10 and stretched their Eastern Conference lead over the Bucks (22-11).
“They are one of the best teams in the league and it’s always special to play on Christmas,” Tatum said. “We just wanted to give our fans a present today and come out of here with a victory.”
Tatum scored 20 points in the third quarter on 7-of-10 shooting as the Celtics boosted their 62-61 halftime lead to 100-86 entering the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to come out in the second half, especially at the start of that third quarter, with some pace and some energy,” Tatum said.
Tatum delivered the most spectacular hoop of the game with a slam dunk over Milwaukee star big man Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 27 points and nine rebounds but no blocked shots.
“You’ve got to attack the rim,” Tatum said. “If you go in there and lay it up, he’s going to send it to the parking lot.”
Golden State, without injured top scorer Stephen Curry, defeated Memphis 123-109 to knock the Grizzlies from a share of the West lead.
Jordan Poole scored 32 points to lead Golden State before getting his second technical foul and being ejected with 9:20 remaining.
The Warriors improved to 13-2 at home and 16-18 overall.
Ja Morant had 36 points, seven rebounds and eight assists to lead the Grizzlies. Klay Thompson added 24 points for the Warriors.
Sixers beat Knicks
Joel Embiid and James Harden sparked Philadelphia’s 119-112 victory at New York, the 76ers’ eighth consecutive triumph.
Cameroonian star Embiid struck 35 points and eight rebounds while Harden contributed 29 points and 13 assists.
New York’s Julius Randle scored 35 points and Jalen Brunson added 23 points and 11 assists before leaving with an apparent right-hip injury in the fourth quarter.
At Dallas, the host Mavericks got 32 points, nine rebounds and nine assists from Slovenian star Luka Doncic in downing the Los Angeles Lakers 124-115.
LeBron James scored a game-high 38 points with six rebounds and five assists but the Lakers (13-20) dropped their fourth game in a row since Anthony Davis was sidelined with a right foot injury.
World Cup News
/ 4 weeks ago
World Cup hosts Qatar announced Friday that national coach Felix Sanchez had been let...
French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera on Friday accused Argentine players of being “inelegant winners”...