Not only did Nikola Jokic squash his beef with the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, but he led the Denver Nuggets to a stunning victory at the ball arena.
Jokic dropped a 29-point triple-double in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series to lead the Nuggets past the Suns 118–102. The Nuggets now lead 3-2 in the series, and are just one win away from reaching the conference finals for the first time since 2020.
The Nuggets came out hot, and took an 11-point lead after a 14-point first quarter from Michael Porter Jr. He also had 17 fast break points in the span, and held the Suns to just one field goal. Last two minutes of the quarter. However, Phoenix made a comeback just before half time.
The Suns went on a 22–7 run, capped by a huge Terrence Ross 3-pointer, to take their first lead of the game with just over 90 seconds left in the half. The Nuggets, however, closed out the last stretch on a 5–1 push and took a three-point lead into the break, despite putting up just 17 points in the period. The game would have been tied, but Devin Booker's last-second layup was too late.
The Nuggets opened the third quarter on a 17–4 run, and the game was back under their control for good. They topped 20 points at times while shooting 14 of 20 from the field as a unit, and seemed to really get under the Sun's skin in the final minutes of the period.
With Booker on the free throw line to shoot a free throw on a Tech foul, four other Suns players gathered around coach Montee Williams on the court. Jokic and Bruce Brown proceeded to join the crowd, and things escalated quickly. In the end, Durant and Brown received double technical fouls.
By then the sun had gone far away from him. The Nuggets easily cruised to a 16-point victory in the fourth quarter, putting them just one win away from the conference finals.
Jokic finished with 13 rebounds and 12 assists for a 29-point triple-double. It marked his 10th career playoff triple-double, the most ever by a center in NBA playoff history. Even before Game 5 started. The two connected briefly during pregame warmups, a very different meeting than the one when Jokic shoved Ishbia in the final minutes of a controversial Game 4 in Phoenix. The Suns took that game five to tie the series, and Jokic, who had 53 points in that game, was fined $25,000.
Brown added 25 points off the bench for Denver in the win. Jamal Murray and Porter each finished with 19 points, and Aaron Gordon added 10 points. The Nuggets shot 50% from behind the field and the arc.
Booker led the Suns with 28 points and six rebounds in the loss, and Durant finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Phoenix was still without Chris Paul, who is still nursing a groin injury he suffered earlier in the series. He was seen working out at the ball arena before the game, but it is unclear when he will be able to return.
Game 6 of the series is set for Thursday night in Phoenix.
This post will be updated soon with more information.