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Reggie Jackson swears he saw it coming.
“Playing with him for a while, I was like, ‘Hmm, if I was Joker I might try this,'” Jackson said. “It’s just fun that he actually does do it.”
Jackson was referring to the jaw-dropping, stunning, mesmerizing pass that Nikola Jokic pulled off against the Pelicans Friday night at Ball Arena. Late in the second quarter of the Nuggets’ 125-113 win, Jokic caught the ball in the paint and flipped a blind, over-the-head, two-handed toss to Aaron Gordon that hit the Nuggets’ forward in stride as he made a beeline toward the basket.
“It was insane,” Gordon said. “I told him when they’re inducting him into the Hall of Fame, that’s one of the passes that they’re going to play. And there I am.”
“Definitely seen it coming,” said Jackson.
It’s not the first time Jokic has pulled off a pass like this. Way back in 2017, he unleashed an almost identical no-looker to Wilson Chandler.
“I remember I did the exact same thing to Wilson Chandler against Indiana. Exact same pass,” Jokic said. “I just saw him for a blink of an eye. And I just wanted to pass it as soon as I can because I think he’s open in that moment, not a moment after. That was the quickest way to pass the ball.”
“Just like guys that can routinely make really tough shots, we’ve grown accustomed to knowing that Nikola pretty much has eyes in the back of his head,” said Michael Porter Jr.
Jokic dominated the Pelicans throughout Friday’s victory, which wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. He finished with another triple-double — 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists — and now has a triple-double in five straight games vs. New Orleans.
Jokic exploited his matchup with Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas. He loves playing against him. Jokic went at Valanciunas from the opening tip, tallied 11 points in the first quarter, and stayed aggressive all night
“They threw a really good punch at us,” Valanciunas said postgame. “We started this game kind of soft.”
Porter continued to showcase his expanded offensive game too. He finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, his ninth double-double of the season. Porter said that his body feels much healthier than it did last season, and it’s led to him getting on the glass more.
Porter also had two monster slams vs. the Pelicans. His athleticism has really popped this season.
“It’s something I’m capable of doing every night if I put my mind to it,” Porter said regarding his double-digit rebounds.”
The Nuggets got back on track against the Pelicans. Denver underestimated the Jazz two nights ago in Utah and got “embarrassed” on national TV, Porter said. They wanted to redeem themselves and did so with a resounding victory.
It was an important win over a quality Pelicans team, especially considering what Denver’s upcoming schedule looks like. After hosting the Pacers on Sunday, the Nuggets embark on five game Eastern Conference road trip that includes matchups against the 76ers and the East-leading Celtics. Then, Denver returns home to host the 76ers and Bucks before traveling to OKC to play the Thunder.
Thankfully, you get the feeling that Denver’s on the same page again, especially Jokic and Gordon.
“It seems like we have a good connection. He’s always there. I just need to pass it,” Jokic said referencing his no-look flip to Gordon. “I saw him a moment before. I was hoping he was still there. He was still there.”