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Nuggets’ Paul Millsap commends Nikola Jokic’s vast improvement from last year

Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Nikola Jokic was a true catalyst in Tuesday night’s 121-112 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Denver Nuggets frontcourt partner Paul Millsap lauded his center’s performance down the stretch after putting up a monster 36-point, nine-rebound, 10-assist outing.

“He’s a completely different player than he was last year especially in the fourth quarter with two minutes to go,” said Millsap of Jokic, according to Christian Clark of BSN Denver. “He wants the ball. He wants to make the play.”

Jokic played more of a passive role in past years, allowing for Will Barton, Gary Harris or Jamal Murray to come through with the heroics, but falling a board shy of a monster triple-double shows just what kind of engagement he’s had throughout the whole game, and even more so in the fourth.

The Joker struggled upon entering the game in the final stretch, surrendering two turnovers to steals king Paul George, missing his first two free throws as well as his first two field goals of the fourth quarter. Yet he rebounded to add nine of his 36 points in the final period, including a crisp 7-of-8 from the foul line to put the Thunder away.

Thanks to Jokic’s assertiveness, the Nuggets are now four games clear of the Thunder for second place and only a game back of the Western Conference-leading Golden State Warriors, completely in the race for the top spot with a handful of weapons to make this a very tight competition down the line.