Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has said he is "extremely grateful" to work with Nikola Jokic after the Serbian was confirmed as the winner of the NBA's MVP award for the second successive season.

Malone, along with other representatives from the Nuggets, flew out to Sombor in Serbia to surprise Jokic at his stables with the award on Wednesday.

During the 2021-22 regular season, the center led the league in points/assists/rebounds per game with 48.7, which marked an improvement on his 2020-21 numbers, which saw him rack up 45.5 PAR per game.

Jokic becomes the 13th player in NBA history to win the MVP award in back-to-back years, following the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and LeBron James.

Unfortunately for Denver, Jokic's regular-season form did not translate to success in the postseason for the Nuggets, who lost 4-1 to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.

However, the Nuggets wanted to celebrate the 27-year-old's achievement, and presented him with the MVP award in his home city, with Malone saying: “I don’t know what else you can say about Nikola at this point.

"He's consistently improved his game, he's consistently proven people wrong when they doubt him and he's consistently the best player on the floor night in and night out.

"I've said it many times before, I'm extremely grateful to coach Nikola Jokic and just as grateful for the bond that we've built off the court in our seven years together."

Jokic was originally drafted to the Nuggets with the 41st pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, famously doing so during a commercial break.

His MVP win last season made him the player with the lowest draft position to win the award, and the first center to do so since Shaquille O'Neal in 2000.

Steph Curry was hailed as the "greatest sixth man ever in the playoffs" after a 34-point performance from the bench that made that case.

Two-time NBA MVP Curry is working his way back from a foot injury and has been kept out of the Golden State Warriors' lineup for their first two games against the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

The Warriors have won both, though, and Curry had a huge role to play in Game 2, scoring 34 points in just 23 minutes on 12-of-17 shooting to earn a plus/minus of 32.

"Jesus," said Draymond Green when he looked at the stat sheet. "Steph plus-32... that's incredible. Wow."

It was only Curry's fourth playoff appearance from the bench, and his 34 points still fell short of the 40 he scored against the Portland Trail Blazers in his first such appearance in 2016 – the most by any player coming off the bench in the postseason since at least 1985-86.

He has averaged 29.5 points across those four games, another record over that period.

The performance against the Blazers came in 37 minutes, however, with this latest display against the Nuggets the best performance by a bench player in 25 minutes or fewer. Only Paul George – 35 against the Dallas Mavericks in 2020 – has scored more in 25 playoff minutes as a starter.

"I'm back," Curry bellowed at one stage, later explaining: "In the first game, I didn't really feel normal, like I had the real flow. Then the first half [of Game 2] I had a little pep in my step and my body felt good.

"I was able to get to some spots, and when you make certain shots, it feels a little different. It feels a little bit more normal and more emotion comes out. It was a nice feeling."

Meanwhile, Jordan Poole, starting in Curry's place, followed up his 30 points in Game 1 with 29 in Game 2. Klay Thompson added 21.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said: "You have three guys that are capable of putting up 30, 40 points.

"Jordan Poole had 30 points in Game 1, he had 29 tonight. Steph Curry is the greatest sixth man ever in the playoffs. They bring a guy off the bench like that, 34 points, five threes... and then Klay Thompson."

The Warriors have an issue now, Green acknowledges, working out how to get all three guards into the same lineup.

"We're not going to keep Steph in the sixth man role, forget that," he said. "But saying that, ultimately, Jordan is probably going to have to start, too.

"Ultimately, we've got to figure a bunch of stuff out. It's a good problem to have, a great problem to have."

Green was happy to let Steve Kerr "figure that one out", but the coach is very pleased with Curry's attitude to returning to action on the bench.

"Steph is Steph," Kerr said. "You don't need to sell him on anything.

"He's very unique. He's incredibly humble and incredibly arrogant on the floor – humble off the floor, arrogant on the floor. It's a great combination. Anything that is going to help the team he's all for."

Head coach Michael Malone has agreed a new multi-year contract extension with the Denver Nuggets.

Malone's existing deal at the Ball Arena was due to expire at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season.

However, the Nuggets have announced the 50-year-old has put pen to paper on fresh terms – although they are yet to be released.

Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement: "This extension is well deserved for Coach Malone and one we are very excited to announce.

"You can easily point to the on-court success that Michael has brought and the improvements the team has made each year under his watch, and you can also point to the selfless, hard-working culture that has developed and grown during his tenure."

Malone has guided the Nuggets to the play-offs on three occasions since taking over in June 2015, including the Conference finals in 2019-20.

The former Sacremento Kings coach has steered them to sixth in the Western Conference this term with a 43-30 record.

Malone has registered 309 career victories with the Nuggets – a tally only bettered by Doug Moe and George Karl.

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has slammed his side claiming that they "gave in and quit" in Sunday's 124-104 loss to the Boston Celtics.

The Nuggets trailed 68-43 at half-time after a 46-21 run to the Celtics, leading to Malone benching several starters for the third quarter, including MVP Nikola Jokic who shot eight-of-23 from the field for his 23 points.

Malone was livid with his side, who slipped to a 42-30 record and seventh spot in the Western Conference.

"To me, it appeared we just kind of gave in and quit. I didn't want to reward that behaviour," Malone told reporters after the game.

"I thought the bench unit was at least going out there and competing and fighting."

Malone added: "If somebody’s kicking our ass and we’re fighting and competing, and they’re better than us, so be it,"

"They’re a very good team, but if we’re getting our butts kicked, and we’re just taking it, possession after possession, heads are dropped, body language giving in, I’m not going to reward that behaviour.

"There’s principles in life, and that goes against every principle inside my body."

Jokic was well down on his usual output with eight rebounds and four assists along with his 23 points, while starters Aaron Gordon (13 points, four rebounds), Monte Morris (seven points, four rebounds and four assists), Will Barton (eight points and five rebounds) and Jeff Green (six points and one rebound) struggled for impact.

"Tonight I can't point to one thing we did well," Malone said.

Jokic added: "Overall, they had a really good defensive game and I had a really bad offensive game."

Jayson Tatum, who was serenaded with "MVP" chants from the Celtics crowd, was joint top scorer with 30 points along with Jaylen Brown.

Boston's win improves their record to 44-28 and fourth in the east, having won three in a row and 10 of their past 12 games.

Nikola Jokic's Denver Nuggets team-mates have no doubt the reigning MVP is the best player in the NBA again this season.

The Nuggets have been hampered by injuries to Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. this season but remain a competitive sixth in the West thanks to Jokic's outstanding displays.

The center's latest heroics guided Denver to a 138-130 overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.

Jokic finished with 46 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, four blocks and three steals – the first example of a player achieving those statistics in the NBA since blocks and steals were first tracked in 1973-74.

This sensational triple-double included 23 fourth-quarter points – matching Jokic's career high – and seven more in overtime.

Team-mate Aaron Gordon said: "[He is] phenomenal, different, he's just different. That's just not something that you see often.

"He took over, 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime; that's just sick. That was just an amazing game. He's an amazing ballplayer.

"This dude is incredible. I don't say that about a lot of people. I only say that about a handful of people. This dude is incredible.

"He's the MVP. I believe that. He's coming out night in and night out putting up ridiculous numbers, and we're winning. I don't know everybody that votes on it, but this guy has got to be at the top of the list."

Jokic ranks 11th for points per game (25.8), second for rebounds (13.8) and seventh for assists (8.0) this season, with his combined 47.6 just clear of MVP rival Giannis Antetokounmpo (46.9) in first place.

For Nuggets coach Michael Malone then, it was a "luxury" to be able to turn to such a player late in the game against the Pelicans.

"What a luxury to have the MVP in an overtime game knowing you can just play through him," Malone said.

"They double-teamed him, Monte Morris makes a big three. It's just such a confidence that you have because you know in a close game he's just going to make the play again and again.

"For him to step up the way he did just speaks to his greatness."

Michael Malone says Nikola Jokic gave another demonstration he is "one of the better clutch players in the NBA" after he inspired the Denver Nuggets to a win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Reigning MVP Jokic scored a season-high 39 points to go with 11 assists and 11 rebounds in a 120-114 overtime victory in Louisiana on Wednesday.

Jokic came up with the first 11 points for the Nuggets in the extra period to give them a cushion, and Denver head coach Malone hailed the Serbia star after his side moved to 12-12.

Malone said: "He's not going to out-quick you, he's not going to out-jump you. He's going to out-skill you, he's going to out-smart you, and he does it so methodically.

"He's one of the better clutch players in the NBA in the last five years, and tonight we saw many more examples of that."

Jokic's triple-double was the 61st of his career and a fourth this season. He is eighth on the all-time list, two ahead of the great Larry Bird and one behind James Harden. Russell Westbrook leads the way on 189.

He said in his on-court interview: "It felt good. The team believed in me. The coach drew a couple of plays for me. The ball went in and we just kept rolling.

"Bottom line, I think they really trust me and I'm really comfortable taking shots in those situations."

Denver face the San Antonio Spurs (8-15) on Thursday.

Nikola Jokic bounced back to Denver Nuggets duty as though he had never been away as the win at Miami Heat was described by coach Michael Malone as "a great pain reliever".

The superstar Serbian, MVP in the NBA last season, had missed four successive games because of a wrist injury amid Denver's six-game slide.

That was their worst such stretch since 2014-15 and saw them fall away after making a 9-4 start to the season, but prospects for Malone's men are looking up now that Jokic is fit.

After sinking the Heat 120-111 in Miami, there was a warm mix of emotion and relief in the Nuggets' locker room.

Jokic posted 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and seemingly that effort had changed everything.

Bones Hyland, the 21-year-old Nuggets point guard, shot a career-high 19 points including five three-pointers, and said: "It felt good going back into the locker room.

"I felt as though the guys were trying to win so bad just because Nikola was out. We know what he provides, and we were trying to fill his shoes and those are big shoes to fill.

"Him being back, everybody's a team now, playing through him, and it felt good for sure."

Malone had to search for the correct terminology to describe the post-game emotion.

"I don't know if relief is the right word, but there was definitely some joy, some smiles, some hugs," said the coach.

"As corny as that sounds, man, winning is a great pain reliever. We've all been down in the dumps and to get this win tonight kind of just stops all of that and allows us to get back to feeling good about ourselves."

He said playing without Jokic had been "a little bit different" to losing any other player.

Quoted on NBA.com, Malone struck an upbeat tone, saying: "I love the guys in the locker room. I'll go to war with them. Obviously, tonight was just one win. But after losing six in a row, by no means have we said, 'We're gonna change our goals now'. There's 62 games left, so much basketball to be played. So, you move on and play another day."

Jokic was not given an easy ride by the Miami crowd, facing boos every time he touched the ball due to the dust-up he and the Heat's Markieff Morris had in a November 8 game. Morris has missed 11 consecutive games since the incident.

He is big enough to handle such hostility though, saying afterwards: "I played in Serbia, so I wish you guys could feel that."

The 26-year-old Jokic is averaging 26.2 points, 13.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists this season, so ostensibly this was a par performance. How the Nuggets had missed him at his most routine though.

Jokic felt there was a collective improvement in the team, adding: "Everybody played well. We had seven players in double figures. So, everybody shared the ball. Everybody touched it."

Michael Malone described Damian Lillard's staggering record-breaking performance as "superhuman" in the Portland Trail Blazers' dramatic playoffs defeat to the Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets took a 3-2 series lead at Ball Arena on Tuesday after edging a double-overtime thriller 147-140.

That was despite an incredible display from Lillard, who scored 55 points – including a playoffs-record 12 three-pointers – from only 24 shots.

Lillard's points haul was his best in the post-season and the third-highest in a defeat in playoff history behind Michael Jordan's 63 against the Boston Celtics in 1986 and Donovan Mitchell's 57 versus the Nuggets last year.

The point guard also provided 10 assists and Nuggets coach Malone saluted his exploits.

Malone said: "Damian Lillard was superhuman tonight."

Nikola Jokic led the way for the Nuggets with 38 points as they got their noses in front in the series.

The center was full of admiration for Lillard and warned the Nuggets must try and find a way to stop the six-time NBA All-Star from making such an impact.

Jokic said: "He was incredible. He made some top shots, he put his team on his back and he was just carrying in.

"We tried, but we need to be better just to take the ball off his hands, especially later in the game, but it was kind of a pleasure to be on the court to witness that."

Damian Lillard expects to see Aaron Gordon again in the remainder of their first-round playoff series after an improved defensive showing denied the Portland Trail Blazers superstar a postseason record.

Lillard had 34 points in Game 1 as the Blazers upset third seed the Denver Nuggets.

And the six-time All-Star was in sensational form to start Game 2 with 32 points by half-time, including eight three-pointers from 11 attempts.

That tied Vince Carter's mark for the most threes in a half in the playoffs and Lillard appeared certain to reach Klay Thompson's 2016 game record of 11 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Lillard himself made 10 against the same team in 2019.

But the Nuggets switched Gordon onto Lillard and Portland's main man made only a single further shot from beyond the arc as he was limited to five attempts.

It meant Lillard, who led the league with 173 clutch points this season, had only 10 points in the second half and two in the fourth quarter – both from the free-throw line.

Asked about Gordon's defense after Denver levelled the series, Lillard said: "I expect it to continue. [I need to be] just moving around more off the ball, getting more off-ball sets.

"Usually bigger guys can use their length and athleticism on the ball, but when you start to move around on flares and pindowns and things like that, typically you can get a little bit of space."

The Blazers point guard was perhaps surprised the Nuggets did not start by getting Gordon out to him.

"It's just a bigger defender, taller guy, more athletic, just a big body," he said.

"But I'm used to that; usually throughout the regular season, whoever their defensive wing or taller wing is, that's who guards me.

"Like the Phoenix game, Mikal Bridges guarded me; Golden State, Kelly Oubre guards me. I'm always against a bigger wing.

"That's an adjustment they went to in the second half. But I think they just gave me more attention, more so than it was just one guy. I'm never going against one guy."

Even before that change, though, the Nuggets were 12 points up, and they ran out 128-109 winners after 38 points from leading MVP candidate Nikola Jokic.

Denver coach Michael Malone said: "That right there was a playoff game.

"The intensity, you had two high-level players in Damian Lillard and Nikola Jokic playing at their respective levels, the crowd was great.

"But it was chippy. And that's the way it should be. We're both fighting for something. That's the way the playoffs should be. I loved it. That's my kind of game right there."

Nikola Jokic joked he is glad the "world doesn't put the bigs aside" after another stellar showing enhanced the Denver Nuggets star's MVP chances.

The giant centre drained 47 points in a 139-137 double-overtime thriller against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, including a go-ahead three in the second additional period.

Jokic added 15 rebounds and eight assists in steering the Nuggets to a third straight win in the absence of Jamal Murray, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

It was Jokic's 51st double-double of an impressive campaign and only narrowly short of a 16th triple-double.

Such impressive form has Jokic well and truly in the MVP conversation and he would be the first center to win the prize since Shaquille O'Neal did so in 1999-2000.

"It's really good for big men. I'm just glad the world doesn't put the bigs aside. We're still popular," Jokic said.

"I had a really good night. I scored a lot and I had a couple of stupid turnovers I can easily fix. It was good night for me and the team."

Head coach Michael Malone feels Jokic has shown on plenty of occasions this season that he deserves individual recognition.

"Life is about a bunch of little moments and I think Nikola's got around 56 little moments this year where he's shown he's the MVP. 

"Tonight was a character win."

The Nuggets are 37-20 for the season after their win and sit fourth in the Western Conference.

Nikola Jokic and the whole Denver Nuggets roster have to be better at channelling their frustrations after a baffling collapse against the Boston Celtics, head coach Michael Malone has said.

The Nuggets were seemingly coasting to a ninth straight NBA win when a three-pointer from Facundo Campazzo late in the third quarter had them 79-65 in front.

But things unravelled spectacularly, with the Celtics hitting the final nine points of the third and the first six of the fourth to take the lead in the game for the first time.

The Celtics went on an astonishing 31-3 run and outscored the Nuggets 31-8 in an outstanding fourth quarter to win 105-87 against one of the league's hottest sides.

Jokic, among the leading contenders for the MVP award this season, was sat down by Malone with a little over four minutes remaining for going after the officials on back-to-back possessions before a timeout.

Malone had sympathy with his star player but said the whole team need to keep their discipline in the heat of battle.

"Regarding Nikola, he gets frustrated with the referees and what he perceives to be a lack of calls, and you understand that," Malone said. 

"But that can never take you away from your duty as a basketball player. So that's something that he, myself and all of us can definitely be better at."

For his part, Jokic – who had 17, points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds – believes the arguments with the officials are just par for the course in the NBA.

"I think the whole 30 teams are complaining and whining," he said. 

"We are just one of them. It's just how the game goes. They're doing their job. We need to do our job. Sometimes it's miscommunication, like arguments, of course, like in every job."

The Nuggets were playing for a sixth time in nine nights and were without Jamal Murray (knee) for a fourth straight game.

Malone again stressed the need for his team to keep their cool, but is already itching to get back into it.

"We have to be better," he said. "They turned up the heat, got into us, switched everything, and we allowed that to kill our offensive flow, and then we started complaining and whining, not getting back. Not competing.

"[But] the best thing about the NBA is we get on a plane this afternoon, go to Golden State and try to right the ship and play at a much higher level than we played today."

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone described the efficiency of Jamal Murray's 50-point haul as "remarkable".

Murray went 21-of-25 from the field and eight-of-10 from three-point range to post 50 points in the Nuggets' 120-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

Malone lauded the guard's performance after the Nuggets improved their record to 16-13.

"I've been around a lot of great players, I've been in the league for a long time, I've seen many 50-point games," he said.

"To do it as efficiently as he did is really remarkable."

Nikola Jokic finished with a triple-double of 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the Nuggets.

Murray said the Nuggets' numerous threats made his life easier against the Cavaliers.

"I can shoot a little bit. Once I see a few go down, I just took off from there and kind of mixed it up," he told Altitude TV.

"I was able to get to the rim on them when they tried to change the coverage and we've got a lot of weapons. You can't just flat-out double me when I'm hot, you've got a 'Joker' [Jokic], who's MVP of the season, he'll pick you apart if you're playing four on three especially.

"I feel like it was just a tough task to be able to deal with both of us and the rest of the team as well."

Nikola Jokic has become a more aggressive scorer because he was beaten with a pillowcase full of soda cans by Mike Malone, the Denver Nuggets coach joked.

Nuggets center Jokic had 27 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in three quarters as Denver cruised to a 119-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old has had at least a double-double in each of his 14 games this season and is averaging a triple-double of 25.1 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10 assists – all of which represent career highs.

Jokic's best scoring season was 2018-19 when he averaged 20.1 points per game, and Malone gave a light-hearted response when asked what has motivated the Serbian to become more prolific.

He replied: "I locked him in my office one day and I beat him with a pillowcase full of soda cans and I said: 'You've got to score more!'"

In a far more serious tone, Malone continued: "You know how he is, he's a great player, he's playing at an MVP level. You go back to tonight, 27, 12 and six, only one turnover.

"Early on they were playing him one-on-one, and sometimes I get frustrated because I don't think we give him the ball enough, especially when he's being guarded one-on-one.

"Nikola has seen every possible double-team, and so have we as a team. We space the floor correctly and he is so willing to find the open man, and we had great possessions against the double-team.

"He's always going to take what the defense gives him but he is being more aggressive, which is what we need from him."

The Nuggets are 10-2 against the Thunder since 2017-18, their best record against any Western Conference opponent in that span.

Denver's latest victory saw them improve to 7-7 on the season, but they are yet to hold a winning record this season after never being .500 or worse after their first game in the previous campaign.

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