West Notes: Nuggets, Nikola Jokic, Pelicans, Zion Williamson, Thunder


Star center Nikola Jokic again had a monster night — and his 13th triple-double of the season — to lift the Nuggets to a 114-109 road win over the Pacers.Nikola Jokic tries to shoot over Myles Turner

Jokic finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, burying 3-of-4 threes, including a crucial one with 6.1 seconds remaining. Along with all that, he twice urged coach Michael Malone to throw a challenge flag, and the calls ended up turning in Denver’s favor.

“We’ve been together for nine years and he’s proven to be very trustworthy,” Malone told reporters of Jokic lobbying challenges. “I think we’ve won five challenges in a row and those can be game-changing type plays and I thought that late one was. So it works out in our favor.”

  • Guard Jamal Murray added 31 points, and he’s been equally impressive in the defending champions’ sudden rise. The Nuggets (31-14) wrap up their five-game trip on Thursday at New York.


  • Shooting guard CJ McCollum scored a season-high 33 points as the Pelicans walloped the Jazz by a 153-124 count on Tuesday.
  • That was a franchise record in points for New Orleans. The previous high was 149, which came in a win over the Kings in 2018.
  • Power forward Zion Williamson spent most of the night as a “point forward,” and it worked. The Pelicans finished with 41 assists on 60 baskets. Willamson finished with a career-high 11 assists.
  • Williamson on the win, via Christian Clark of NOLA.com: “We made shots. We made them at a high clip, to be honest. A lot of that was just transition, getting stops, going. When we ran our offense, we ran it with force.”


  • Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points and Jalen Williams added 19, inckluding the game-winner with nine seconds to go, as the Thunder held off the visiting Trail Blazers, 111-109, in an exciting game all around.
  • The Thunder (30-13) are currently in a three-way tie with the Timberwolves and defending champion Nuggets for first place in the Western Conference. Oklahoma City has won seven of 10.
  • Former NBA forward Paul Pierce is picking Gilgeous-Alexander as his midseason NBA MVP. “For me, right now, Shai,” Pierce said of his pick onthe Kevin Garnett podcast. “I didn’t know at this point that (OKC) was going to be fighting for first place at this point in the season. The numbers dude is putting up and the fluidity that he plays with. He’s calm and he’s cool.”

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