Jokic’s monster night steers Denver to a 3-2 lead over Minnesota

Nikola Jokic hammered Minnesota with 40 big points and helped the Nuggets move a win away from another conference finals ticket (NBA via yahoo.com)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

And that’s why, ladies and gentlemen, that he’s the MVP.

Eager to put on a masterful performance in front of their home fans after a grueling two-game road trip, Nikola Jokic proved why he is the best player in the NBA after leading the Denver Nuggets’ clinical outing against the Minnesota Timberwolves, 112-97, in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinals duel to take a 3-2 series lead in the ongoing playoffs on May 15, 2024.

Jokic unleashed his best performance of the post-season so far after dropping a dominant stat line of 40 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds, two steals, and a block.

There was just nothing that the Timberwolves could do after Jokic caught fire early in the opening quarter, bullying the perimeter defense of Rudy Gobert, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Naz Reid.

After four frames, Jokic finished with an efficient shooting night of 15/22 including 2/3 from the three-point territory and 8/9 from the free-throw line.

Jokic immediately put his imprint on the game after scoring 14 points in just six minutes that forced Minnesota to call an early timeout.

Despite the tight defense applied by Gobert, who recently bagged this season’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, Jokic was in his groove, scoring in a variety of ways from his twirling hook shots to his off-leg fade-away jumpers.

Minnesota was able to keep themselves within striking distance in the first half after trimming their deficit to a range of 4-7 points but once the second half kicked off, Jokic once again turned on the jets and single-handedly destroyed the Timberwolves with his insane shot-making.

In the last two quarters, the Nuggets outscored Minnesota, 62-53, and sent in a couple of early haymakers when Jokic went crazy from the field midway through the fourth.

Minnesota tried to claw their way back after trimming their 18-point deficit to just 10 points, but Jokic, Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Aaron Gordon provided timely buckets to help Denver bag its third straight win of the semifinals coming from a 0-2 deficit.

Gordon backstopped Jokic with an efficient double-double outing of 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and a steal while the duo of Pope and Jamal Murray each scored 16 markers in the win.

On the other hand, Anthony Edwards capped off the loss with his worst shooting performance of the semifinals so far, only producing 18 points on 5/15 shooting from the field.

Towns was the only player for the Timberwolves to reach the 20-point mark as he chipped in 23 points, six rebounds, four dimes, and two steals.

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