Nuggets coach Malone says Jokic should not be penalized in the MVP race for winning after the second

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone believes Nikola Jokic should not be penalized in the MVP race for winning the last two games after another triple-double on Sunday.

Jokic scored 30 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in the Nuggets’ 123-111 win over the Boston Celtics, his ninth triple-double in 32 games this season.

The back-to-back MVP is aiming for his first MVP trophy since Larry Bird (1984-86), setting career highs for assists per game (9.5) and shooting percentage (68.6).

Jokic is also ranked 18th in the NBA in points per game (25.7), seventh in rebounds per game (10.9) and third in assists (9.5) per game.

“If the reason people don’t give him MVP is because he won two in a row, then he’s lazy,” Malone told reporters.

In his post-game team speech, Malone added, “I said ‘and by the way, Nikola scored his 90th career triple-double, big deal.’ The guys were cracking because we were all so used to it.

“I promised myself that I would never take Nikola and his greatness for granted. He is a phenomenal player, plays the right way and makes everyone around him better. What a joy to train.”

Nuggets defenseman Bruce Brown, who scored 21 points, including making four-of-six three-pointers, confirmed Jokic’s MVP title.

“He’s my MVP. He should be league MVP three times in a row,” Brown said. “He does everything for us. Without Jok, I don’t know where we would be.”

Malone praised his team’s defense against the Celtics 26-11, who have the best offense in the league.

Boston MVP contender Jayson Tatum was limited to 25 points, shooting seven-of-16 from the field and missing any of his four three-pointers.

“Jayson Tatum is an All-MVP player and will be an All-MVP finalist,” said Malone. good job keeping an eye on Jayson Tatum.”

The game was stopped for approximately 35 minutes in the fourth quarter after a Robert Williams III dunk caused the hoop to buckle.

Six staff members attempted to level the hoop, which was eventually taken off the backboard, with Malone concerned that the delay would affect the Nuggets’ 18-point lead while Celtics guard Jaylen Brown was unimpressed with the time it took.

“There was no communication whatsoever,” Brown said. “They spent all that time trying to fix it, but when we came back it still looked like it wasn’t even up to par in my opinion, so we just wasted all that time.

“It affects the game. Yes, injuries happen and stuff like that. Fortunately, that didn’t happen [happen]but it wasn’t good. In my opinion, the whole process was mishandled and that had an impact as well. But luckily no one was hurt.”

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