Nikola Jokic overwhelms Bulls with 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter

Nikola Jokic overwhelms Bulls with 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter

When Nikola Jokic turns into an assassin, not even rudimentary offense can stop the Nuggets.

Jokic scored 17 fourth-quarter points, including one stunning, rim-rattling jam, to lead the Nuggets over the Bulls, 118-112, on Monday night. The win nudged Denver to 19-15 on the season ahead of Tuesday’s matchup in Milwaukee. It was Denver’s eighth consecutive win over the Bulls, who were led by 23 points from Zach LaVine.

Jokic finished with 39 points, though his interior dominance was far from complicated. In the fourth quarter in particular, the Nuggets fed their Serbian superstar, who routinely and consistently finished over numerous defenders.

Jokic flirted with his ninth triple-double of the season, but finished an assist shy in lieu of his scoring eruption.

Jamal Murray registered 24 points for his 10th consecutive game of at least 20+ points, and Michael Porter Jr. added 17 points and 15 rebounds. It was Porter’s fourth consecutive double-double.

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But none of those supplementary performances would’ve mattered without Jokic’s jaw-dropping takeover.

The Nuggets’ offense deteriorated in the third quarter, not unlike several other games. Behind seven turnovers and clunky, stop-and-start offense, the Bulls chiseled a seven-point halftime deficit to two heading into the fourth quarter. Denver fell into a momentary lull not even Jokic could drag his team out of.

Owing to a decimated rotation, the Nuggets relied heavily on reserves Vlatko Cancar, PJ Dozier and Zeke Nnaji. Nuggets coach Michael Malone said before the game he didn’t expect Gary Harris (adductor), Paul Millsap (knee) or JaMychal Green (shoulder) back until after the break.

Denver has two games left before getting their first extended rest in months.

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Monday marked the first time old Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas faced his former team.

“I obviously have a very close relationship and I follow them, but today’s a game the Chicago Bulls have to go after and try to win,” Karnisovas joked on a pre-game press conference.

Before the game, Karnisovas caught up with everyone from Nuggets president Tim Connelly, to Malone to Jokic.

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