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NBA: Nikola Jokic hits 40-footer at buzzer, Nuggets rally to stun Warriors

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Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic hits a game-winning 3-pointer over Golden State Warriors' Kevon Looney during an NBA basketball game in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024.

Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic hits a game-winning 3-pointer over Golden State Warriors’ Kevon Looney throughout an NBA basketball recreation in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024. (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle through AP)

SAN FRANCISCO — With three seconds left in a tie recreation, Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone arrange Nikola Jokic to be the security valve on an inbounds move on the far finish. Jamal Murray, the primary possibility, wasn’t out there up the sideline. Neither was second-choice Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

As a substitute, Aaron Gordon received the ball to Jokic, who took three dribbles throughout halfcourt, stopped and launched a 40-footer over Kevon Looney from the precise sideline that banked in as time expired. Which have the Nuggets a shocking 130-127 victory Thursday evening after trailing by 18 factors within the fourth quarter. They closed with a 25-4 run.

Jokic had 34 factors, 10 assists and 9 rebounds. He tied it at 127 with a brief jumper with 26 seconds left. Golden State’s closing possession ended with Stephen Curry’s turnover, setting the the stage for Jokic’s winner.

Malone mentioned he instructed Jokic through the timeout to “take two dribbles over halfcourt and shoot.”

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“And he executed the play to perfection,” Malone mentioned. “However nice gamers make nice performs. And Nikola catching the ball and making one thing occur behind that’s simply unimaginable.”

Jokic mentioned he was simply attempting to “get a bit bit nearer and simply throw it to the basket.”

“I believe these photographs are the simplest photographs to take,” Jokic mentioned. “You don’t have another possibility.”

The defending champion Nuggets have received 11 of 13 and 6 straight on the highway. They despatched the Warriors — who didn’t get again to .500 after snapping a three-game skid Tuesday evening — to a 1-3 begin on their seven-game homestand.

Golden State has blown a number of double-digit leads this season.

“These video games all come all the way down to the wire, it seems like for us this yr,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr mentioned. “We’ve in all probability misplaced 4 or 5 we should always have received.”

Aaron Gordon scored 30 factors for Denver, and Jamal Murray had 25. Curry led Golden State with 30 factors. Klay Thompson added 24.

“Some are a bit bit simpler to swallow than others,” Curry mentioned. “This one is certainly robust.”

Nuggets ahead Peyton Watson mentioned Jokic’s confidence in himself helps the group.

“He’s so poised and he by no means will get too excessive or too low,” Watson mentioned. “He’s an even-keel man. So for him to return up massive in these massive moments and simply to indicate that he’s calm and poised, he calms all people else.”

Golden State pulled away within the third quarter, outscoring Denver 44-24 after trailing by double-digits early within the half. The Warriors had a 19-6 halfway via the quarter, with Brandin Podziemski hitting three nook 3-pointers for a 107-94 lead going into the fourth quarter.

“I believe we simply didn’t wish to quit,” Jokic mentioned. “We might simply have excuses simply to lose the sport or we now have a back-to-back tomorrow … However the guys didn’t drop their hats. We have been actually aggressive.”

The Nuggets took a 70-63 lead into halftime, taking pictures 62% from the sphere.

Malone mentioned he was most happy with his group responding down massive to the Warriors on the highway.

“While you get all the way down to this group, it’s very simply drop your head on this constructing with that crowd,” Malone mentioned. “And that’s in all probability the factor I used to be most happy with tonight is that everyone – coaches, gamers, we simply stayed the course even after that third quarter which they dominated.”

The Warriors have been with out Draymond Inexperienced, suspended indefinitely three weeks in the past, for the eleventh straight recreation. ESPN reported Thursday that Inexperienced was anticipated to return to the group facility within the coming days in anticipation of a return, although coach Steve Kerr didn’t affirm the report earlier than the sport.

Golden State can be with out Gary Payton II for an additional prolonged stretch due to a strained hamstring. The Warriors mentioned Patyon can be re-evaluated in three weeks.

NEXT SCHEDULE

Nuggets: Host Orlando on Friday evening.

Warriors: Host Detroit on Friday evening.

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