Nikola Jokic first with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 500 assists; leads the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs

DENVER– Nikola Jokić wrote his story in the night Denver nuggets clinched fourth straight playoff spot with a 122-109 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Jokic became the first player in NBA history with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season. He had 35 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and five steals as of Thursday night.

“Dude’s really great at basketball,” teammate Bone Hyland called.

Jokic’s big showing came after he took off an accidental elbow years Jackson Jr. to the right forehead and temple bled in the opening minute.

After twice having to retire to the bench to stop the bleeding, Jokic donned a red headband for the remainder of the game as he helped the Nuggets (48-33) weather a shaky start to clinch a win of the season through the to avoid grizzlies.

“The MVP isn’t even a competition,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone afterwards. “There are other great players. I’m not saying they aren’t great players. But what Nikola Jokic has done this year – with this team, everything we’ve been through – is just incredible.”

“Last year he was good and this year he’s even better.”

Despite the lack of stars Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.The Nuggets earned a top-six finish in the Western Conference playoffs and avoided the four-team play-in thanks to another outstanding performance from the reigning MVP.

They can still win the Northwest Division with a win against them on Sunday night Los Angeles Lakers and two losses through the Utah jazz (48-32) who finish against those Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazer. Denver’s victory also disabled that Minnesota Timberwolves into the play-in.

Aaron Gordon added 22 points for the nuggets.

Desmond Bane had 14 points for the Grizzlies, who suffered an overtime loss in Utah on Wednesday night after already winning the Premier League title in their history and securing second place in the West.

“I think we played good basketball, even against Utah the other night. We just didn’t have it tonight,” said Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins.

Jokic was the biggest reason.

“We threw him a lot,” Jenkins said. “He’s the MVP for a reason. He’s almost impossible to guard. He’ll hit you inside, outside, playmaking. He played at a really high level tonight.”

The Grizzlies are hoping for an all-star guard Yes Morant back this weekend from a right knee injury that has sidelined him since March 18th.

Malone said he was concerned after seeing Jokic bloody in such a crucial game for Denver.

“My first thought was Steve Nash in that playoff series and they couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Malone said. “And I say, ‘Of all the games, Nikola gets a very harmless elbow, an accidental elbow to the head, and he bleeds.’

“I say, ‘Not tonight.'”

Malone said he was imploring his coaches to do whatever they could to stop the flow of blood.

“Like, get a stapler out here,” Malone said. “And it finally stopped and Nikola put on another MVP performance.”

However, Jokic said he will no longer wear the headband. He leaves that look Lebron James.

“No, I look great,” said Jokic. “I can’t let you guys see that twice.”

Jokic agreed he’s had a better season than last year, but said there are 20 superstars in this league and he’s not campaigning for another MVP award himself.

“If that’s enough, it’s enough,” he said. “No, you can’t control that.”

Jokic was given a cue ball by the Nuggets as a memento of his historic night, but he joked the coaches were likely to sell his blood-soaked headband on eBay.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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