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Nuggets coach Michael Malone apologizes to Nikola Jokic after playing him 65 minutes in Game 3 vs. Blazers

Mike Malone, Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone never expected that Game 3 of their series with the Portland Trail Blazers will end up in four overtimes. With that said, he also never thought he would be playing Nikola Jokic for 65 minutes.

The Nuggets lost to the Blazers, 140-137. Jokic — who finished with a triple-double of 33 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists — missed a potential game-tying free throw in the closing seconds of the fourth overtime, obviously because of exhaustion.

After the match, Malone praised Jokic for his performance in the all-out game. He also shared that he apologized to the Serbian big man for giving him heavy minutes, explaining that he would have never thought that it would end up in such historic lengths.

“Nikola Jokic is our best player. We’re at our best when he’s on the floor. I had no idea it was going to go into four more overtimes. I apologized to him. He doesn’t complain,” Malone said, per Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.

Nikola Jokic’s 65 minutes is most minutes a player has featured in a playoff game since 1953, and it’s hard to blame him for feeling the fatigue in the closing seconds. Put simply, it’s hard to pin the blame on him given that he had a huge night for the Nuggets overall.

Michael Malone will certainly give Jokic more rest ahead of Game 4 on May 7, Tuesday, though it’s unlikely The Joker will be at ease given what has transpired.