Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic sparks 18-point second-half comeback against Magic, continues to strengthen MVP case

The new-look Nuggets, since the addition of Aaron Gordon, had been undefeated since (3-0) but didn't have it going in the first half against Gordon's former team - the Orlando Magic.

They shot 18-of-46 from the field, 4-of-15 from beyond the arc, and committed nine turnovers while allowing the Magic to shoot 26-of-46 from the field and 9-of-18 from long distance, and thus trailed 65-47.

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone called it the worst half the team had played all season but the team's MVP candidate Nikola Jokic had other plans.

In the second half, he led from the front and helped the Nuggets outscore the Magic 72-44 for the eventually comfortable 119-109 victory.

The Serbian center finished the game with 17 points, 16 assists, and nine rebounds. The assists tally is two shy of his career-high, one he recorded earlier this season.

This is his sixth game with at least 15 assists, six more than all centers combined in the three-point era. That's not all.

He passed NBA legend and Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain for most double-digit assist games by a center in NBA history, recording his 81st in this game.

New teammate Gordon, still getting used to Jokic's high level of play was not short on praise after the game - "His ability to see the play before it even develops is amazing."

Jokic was one of six Nuggets in double figures, led by Gordon's 24 points as the team has now won five straight and 14 of their last 17. Their record now improves to 31-18, one game shy of the third-seeded LA Clippers.

As things stand, the 26-year-old is no doubt the MVP favourite. He is a close second to Joel Embiid as per ESPN's PER and NBA.com's Player Impact Estimate but has played 16 games more while topping the charts in win shares and MVP tracker as per Basketball Reference.

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