After missing the previous four games over a period of nine days, Nikola Jokic returned to the Nuggets lineup as the team began a monster seven-game road trip in Miami.
The Nuggets center reportedly suffered the wrist sprain midway through the team’s home loss against the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 18. Jokic played until the end of the game, but he was seen favoring it in the second half.
Prior to the injury, the reigning MVP was averaging career-highs of 26.4 points and 13.6 rebounds while also dishing out 6.4 assists on career-high shooting efficiencies of 59.3 percent from the field and 41.0 percent from beyond the arc.
How did Jokic perform in his return?
Despite all the off-court talk in the lead-up to this game, the eventual on-court contest turned out to be a mismatch with the Heat missing key players like Jimmy Butler (tailbone), Tyler Herro (illness) and Markieff Morris (neck).
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While the Nuggets were also missing key players in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., they rallied behind their superstar Jokic and comfortably clinched this game 120-111.
In his return, the Serbian big man didn’t miss a beat. He did most of his damage early, with 17 points and nine rebounds as Denver opened the game up with a big 63-43 first half. At one point in the first quarter, he had outrebounded the entire Heat squad 7-6.
From tipping-in shots and finishing plays in the paint to his spectacular passes, Jokic was well and truly back.
For a return game, the reigning MVP stuffed the stat sheet with a near triple-double of 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in just 33 minutes of action on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting from the field.
He was one of seven Nuggets players to score in double figures as Denver snapped a six-game losing streak and recorded their first victory in over two weeks (Nov. 14 vs. Trail Blazers).