THE Denver Nuggets pulled off a win against the Sacramento Kings in their home court at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
The Nuggets barely got the win against the Kings with the score of 120-118, thanks to a clutch play by bigman Nikola Jokic who tipped in a missed field goal to win the game and a couple plays from the returning guard Isaiah Thomas.
Jokic posted 20 points, 18 rebounds, and 11 assists; marking his 28th triple double for this season. In addition, forward Paul Millsap scored his season-high 25 points. However, the major story lies in guard Isaiah Thomas’ return from rehabilitation.
Thomas was an all-star caliber player for the Celtics back in 2017 when he suddenly had an injury on his hip and was in need of a surgery. After that, things went south for the point guard.
His campaign to be a most valuable player candidate vanished. Thomas was traded from team to team (Boston, Cleveland, and Lakers) until he was released by the Lakers, and ended with the Nuggets in free agency with a minimum veteran’s contract of $3 million for the season.
When Thomas was subbed into the game around three minutes left in the first quarter, Denver fans cheered his return as they appreciated and understood what he has been through the past years. Thomas ended the game with eight points in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the Kings relied on guard Buddy Hield’s performance of 25 points along with guard De’Aaron Fox who scored a double-double of 15 points and 10 assists.
In the first quarter, the Kings were on a hot start; finishing the quarter with a 41-30 lead against the Nuggets. However, in the second quarter, the Nuggets started to fire their engines and stormed back against the onslaught of the Kings and cutting the 17-point deficit into 11 points, going into the half with 69-58 in favor of the Kings.
During the third quarter, Denver didn’t waiver and brought their momentum from the first half into the quarter, outscoring the Kings to 35-22 in the quarter. Thomas started to show flashbacks of his all-star days as he knocked down his first points as a Nugget with a three. Afterwards, he knocked down another rainbow three to give the Nuggets the lead going into the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, the Kings refused to let their lead be eradicated by the Nuggets and played great defense against the home team, equalizing the scoring load of both teams to 27 in the quarter. In this time, the Kings relied on guard Buddy Hield to make another miracle run to give the Kings the lead back. With 15.1 seconds left, Hield knocked down a three to tie the game at 118 each.
The Nuggets passed the rock to their all-star Jokic down low for a hook shot. Jokic missed but somehow tipped the ball back to give the Nuggets the lead. With little time left, Hield threw a three-point prayer yet the ball grazed the rim and he missed.
The Nuggets are now on the top spot of the Northwest Division and has a record of 39-18 going into All-Star weekend. Meanwhile, the Kings drop to 30-27 in their record this season. (Jayvee Gulfan, USC intern)