Jokic, Nuggets use strong 2nd half to rout Knicks
NEW YORK (AP) — Nikola Jokic scored 32 points and had 11 rebounds in just 27 minutes, leading the Denver Nuggets over the New York Knicks 113-99 Saturday.
Denver never trailed in winning for only the third time in 10 games.
“Winning is the best medicine,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
Zeke Nnaji added 21 points off the bench for the Nuggets, Will Barton contributed 13 and Jeff Green 11.
The Knicks have lost three straight overall and fell to 5-8 at Madison Square Garden this season.
“We (got to) look ourselves in the mirror and decide what we want the season to be,” Julius Randle said after leading the Knicks with 24 points on 9-for-18 shooting. “We have to commit to it.”
Evan Fournier chipped in 15, R.J. Barrett added 13 and Alec Burks and Derrick Rose each had 11 for New York.
“I say it all year (and) I’ll continue to say it: We’re going to win games with our defense," Randle added. “That’s who we are."
The Nuggets led 30-24 after the first quarter and were up 60-49 at halftime. During the second quarter, the Nuggets led by as many as 16, which caused the home crowd to grow surly.
After New York cut its deficit to six in the third period, Green and Jokic responded with layups on consecutive possessions to push the advantage to 73-63. The layups sparked 23-8 run, including 12 points by Jokic, as Denver made it 92-71.
“There were a lot of looks on 3s just because of how much they were helping inside,” Nnaji said.
Denver's lead grew to 30 on JaMychal Green's hook shot midway through the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets shot 53% from the field (44 for 84) and 47.6% from 3 (20 for 43) while limiting the Knicks to 40.2% shooting from the field (35 for 88) and 30.8% (12 for 40) on 3s.
“I felt they were out of sync,” said Davon Reed, who had nine points and four assists for the Knicks. “We know they're a heavy (isolation) team. We had shots we wanted to force them to take. ... They were definitely getting frustrated and we were locked in.”
Nuggets: The game marked a homecoming for Malone, who was an assistant on the Jeff Van Gundy-era Knicks squads, and counts Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau as a friend.
“I was fortunate,” Malone said before the game. “Jeff Van Gundy was the head coach, and I had guys like Tom Thibodeau, Don Chaney, Steve Clifford who just went out of their way to — maybe because they liked my father, I don’t know — they went out their way to look after me and show me the ropes.”
The Nuggets announced the signing of Reed to a 10-day contract prior to the game.
Knicks: When Thibodeau met with reporters nearly 90 minutes before the game, he had one player on his mind: Jokic. Specifically, the reigning MVP’s skill set and how to defend against it.
“He’s so unique because you can run your offense through him,” Thibodeau said. “When a guy passes the ball the way he does, he makes everyone a lot better.”
Nuggets: Visit Chicago on Monday night.
Knicks: Visits San Antonio on Tuesday night.
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