Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone recently benched star player Nikola Jokic in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Dallas Mavericks as he was unhappy with his effort on the floor.
Malone's message to him was simple; be more aggressive. Since that game last week, the Serbian has responded and done exactly that in the only way that he knows best; by stuffing the stat sheet and dominating all over the court.
The 22-year-old is one of the most talented big men in the league and produced another terrific display as the Nuggets got a much-needed 130-104 win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.
Jokic finished the game with a triple-double of 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
This was his seventh of the season and it saw him match an impressive feat held by one of the game's greatest ever players.
He becomes the first center to notch seven or more triple-doubles in a single campaign since the legendary Wilt Chamberlain, according to Basketball-Reference.
It is extremely rare for players in this position to post these stat lines but Jokic makes it look easy.
The Nuggets offence runs through the youngster and his ability to score, create and rebound makes him one of the best all-around centers in the league today.
This season, 'The Joker' is averaging 17.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. He is also shooting 49 percent from the field and 38 percent from the three-point line.
He is essentially the team's point guard as he makes plays for others with his unbelievable court vision.
This outrageous pass against the Kings last night just added to his growing collection:
Coach Malone calls him the "focal point" for Denver and looks to him to make his teammates better in every game.
“Nikola is our guy and he has to be the focal point,” Malone said. “And from that focal point, everybody else gets theirs.”
In the summer, the Colorado-based outfit acquired free agent Paul Millsap to play in the frontcourt with Jokic.
Despite being a four-time All-Star, even he is happy to defer to his partner and says he makes them tick.
“He’s such a humble guy, that sometimes he looks for me to do things,” Millsap said of Jokic, per the Denver Post. “And it’s him. He’s our team. He makes a lot of things go for us.
"He’s got to continue to stay aggressive, and I’m here to help him and back him in any way possible.”
With Millsap back in the lineup after missing up to four months with a broken wrist, the duo can once again look to create a devastating partnership together.
The Nuggets will need that now more than ever as they fight for a playoff spot. They are currently in ninth with a 37-30 record but only narrowly trail the Los Angeles Clippers.
They have just 15 more games to keep their hopes alive, starting with a trip to face the in-form L.A. Lakers at Staples Center on Tuesday night.
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