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Nuggets’ ‘Cool Hand Luke’ has Suns on brink of elimination

Nikola Jokic scored 53 points in Game 4 and the Denver Nuggets still lost, so he decided to do a little bit of everything Game 5. And his performance paid dividends.  

Jokic was once again the best player on the court in Denver’s decisive 118-102 win over the Phoenix Suns. The two-time MVP had a game-high 29 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists to record his 10th career playoff triple-double. He surpassed the late Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain for the most playoff triple-doubles for a center.

Jokic got whatever he wanted on Tuesday as he led both teams in points, rebounds and assists. His MVP-type performance helped the Nuggets take a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

‘Nikola never forces anything. He’s a guy that literally will just read the game and take what the game offers. This series everyone is talking about Devin Booker, and rightfully so. The performances he’s put on in the first round against the Clippers and against us have been spectacular. But sometimes we maybe take Nikola Jokic for granted. What he is doing is just incredible,’ Nuggets coach Mike Malone said to reporters. ‘He makes everyone around him better. He never gets rattled. Cool Hand Luke. We are so thankful that he’s a Denver Nugget.’

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Jokic scored 17 points, had three rebounds and three assists in the third quarter to help the Nuggets outscore the Suns 39-25.

‘He plays at his own pace. But he just makes the game simple for everyone. He can pass the ball. When he wants to score and be aggressive, he can. But he makes the right play every time,’ Nuggets guard Bruce Brown said of Jokic on NBA TV. ‘He sees the play before it happens.’

Jokic and the Nuggets now have a chance to send Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and the Suns home Thursday in Game 6. The home team has won every game in the back-and-forth series, but if Jokic controls the contest like he did on Tuesday, the Nuggets should be in excellent position to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

‘I just like to win the game, so whatever it takes,’ Jokic said.

It might take another triple-double performance for Jokic.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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