HomeBasketball TodayPopovich Praises 'Incredible' Nikola Jokic After Dominant Performance Against Spurs

Popovich Praises ‘Incredible’ Nikola Jokic After Dominant Performance Against Spurs

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Gregg Popovich gives credit where it is due.

The Denver Nuggets put on a clinic in a 117-106 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday in Austin, Texas. And while Denver’s best player showed the Silver and Black, including rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama, a thing or two, there is no replicating Nikola Jokic according to Gregg Popovich.

“I don’t think anybody can do what Nikola does. He’s a one off. Amazing, fantastic, phenomenal player,” the Hall of Fame coach said.

Victor Wembanyama vs. Nikola Jokic

The Spurs’ 20-year-old sensation took note of the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player’s game-high 31 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists on Friday.

“[Nikola Jokic] is somebody I want to compete against for years and give 100% against, but also [he’s] somebody that I respect a lot. So, I hope there is going to be great battles for the future,” Wemby shared.

Though Wembanyama didn’t enjoy his best game, his 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks also left an impression on this past year’s NBA Finals MVP.

“Definitely, he’s there. Like I said, he’s learning with time. He’s going to have a bad period, a good period. He’s really young, so he’s going to learn. Like I said last time, we just need to enjoy his process and he’s going to change the game for sure,” Jokic added.

Gregg Popovich, for his part, admitted that the Spurs were “really shaky in the first quarter,” adding that it felt like there’s “too much respect in the sense and looked a little hesitant and that sort of thing.”

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Coach Pop furthered, “Then they got it back together and played well about halfway through the third quarter. And then, [Jamal Murray] took over, [Nikola Jokić] took over, which is not surprising, Popovich said of the loss that dropped the Spurs to 14-53. But the effort throughout the game was exactly what I’m looking for. The physicality is better in that sort of thing. But the youth shows mostly.”

Gregg Popovich’s extended thoughts on the Nuggets

The longest-tenured coach in the NBA shared several more thoughts about the defending champions.

“You can’t match the talent level that they have right now with the young team, but you see what it takes. The consistency. We have the effort. I’m proud of the way they played.”

Popovich continued to focus on Denver within the context of his team.

“You know what I’m going to say. They learn every night. It doesn’t have to be the Nuggets. But the good thing about playing the Nuggets, we get them two more times. You get to play against a championship team, and you see what it takes. Some things you can’t match.”

“As you well know, 27 points off turnovers, game over. You can’t do that,” the five-time NBA champion continued. “And that’s been a tough part for us. Because if you have those turnovers, like any team; even Denver did tonight. For two, three minutes, you don’t score, it compounds and then you’re down 15 or 20, that kind of thing. So, the turnovers is the thing that we have to eliminate, but there aren’t a whole lot of drills for that. You just point them out.”

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The Spurs still play the Nuggets twice over their final 15 games of the season, though both will come next month.

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About the Author

Hector Ledesma has been covering the Spurs in San Antonio since 2005, but he has been following them for even longer than that. An award-winning journalist born and raised in San Antonio, Hector has worked across all types of television and radio platforms. His work extends online and through social media (@HectorLedesmaTV) where he continues that work with ClutchPoints.

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