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Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, Paul George call out Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic for flailing

Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Nikola Jokic, Nuggets, Clippers

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic had his way with the Los Angeles Clippers for much of Game 3, finishing with 32 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals on 12-of-18 shooting from the field. The big man was shut down in the fourth quarter for a second consecutive game in a 113-107 Clippers win, but it didn’t come without a lot of physicality on the parts of Ivica Zubac, Paul George, and Patrick Beverley.

The Clippers held the Nuggets to just 31.8 percent shooting in the fourth quarter, including just four points for Jokic. Zubac was highly critical of himself following his defensive performance in Game 2, and he finished Game 3 with eight points, three rebounds, and six fouls in 22 minutes. He did his job in being physical with Jokic as much as he could and earning all of his fouls. Zubac’s Clippers’ teammates, however, didn’t think he could do much else on the two-time NBA All-Star.

“”He’s great. He’s one of a kind at that position,” Paul George said after the Clippers’ win. “I thought Zu did a great job. We told him, [Jokic is] a great player. What you have to do, though, is just make it tough for him. If he makes shots, he makes shots, but it can’t be easy. He’s got to be worn down. He’s got to be tired. And going to that next game, he’s got to remember how tough it was, and I thought Zu did that.”

Patrick Beverley was only on the court for one of the Clippers’ six first-round games, but studied and defended Luka Doncic a lot this season when available. In his postgame press conference, Beverley compared Doncic and Jokic together, saying they bring the same skill set and pose similar problems for opposing teams. They both do everything on the court for their respective teams, both like to get physical, and both really get on the officials to call fouls.

“Jokic presents the same type of — I don’t know, I wouldn’t say problems — but he presents the same thing Doncic presents, Luka presents, a lot of flailing,” Beverley added. “You know, puts a lot of pressure on the referees to make the right call. I think Zu did a hell of a job. He used all his six fouls, he did what he needed to do. Got one big dunk at the end. Big free throws at the end. We got a win. I think that’s the most important part.”

George echoed the sentiments of his Clippers teammates by touching on some of the things that make Jokic such an incredibly tough guard, including the pressure he consistently puts on officials with his physical play as well as his occasional flailing of his body and arms.

“It’s tough. It’s just tough he gets those calls. He throws his body around. You know, it’s tough. Same thing Pat said. He puts the pressure on the refs. Some of those I don’t think are fouls, but he gets it. You know, you just tell Zu, he’s just got to continue to battle. He gets those calls, he gets them. Got to keep it going.”

Through three games, Jokic is averaging 24.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and a block per game on 52.7 percent shooting. The Clippers haven’t done a good job of slowing Nikola Jokic down outside of Game 1, but they’ve got a chance to continue to really make life difficult for him as the series continues.

The Clippers survived in Game 3 thanks to their defensive bursts, but they’ll need a much better showing on both ends for 48 minutes if they want to win Game 4.