MILWAUKEE -- Nikola Jokic will never play another game at the Bradley Center. And just as well; he would never be able to top the performance he put together in the building -- which will be knocked down after the season -- Thursday night.
With 1:54 left in the second quarter of the Denver Nuggets' 134-123 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, Jokic whipped a cross-court pass to the corner, finding Wilson Chandler for an open 3-pointer. It put the Nuggets up by 13, but more important, it gave Jokic his 10th assist.
And that assist gave Jokic a triple-double -- the fastest triple-double in NBA history. The Serbian big man recorded the triple-double in just 14 minutes and 33 seconds of court time, besting little-known Jim Tucker of the Syracuse Nationals, whose record of 17 minutes had stood since 1955.
For the game, Jokic finished with 30 points on 11 of 14 from the field while compiling 15 rebounds and 17 assists. He did have eight turnovers, but such things can be overlooked when you're personally responsible for over half of you team's offensive production. Between points and assists, Jokic produced 74 of the Nuggets' 134 points on the evening.
In addition, Jokic became just the sixth player in NBA history to record a game with 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and 15-plus assists. The other names on that list? Oh, just Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird and James Harden.
It was a performance that wowed not only the fans, but even his own head coach and teammates.
"When you get a triple-double in 12 minutes -- I've been around for great players, I've never seen anything close to that," Denver coach Michael Malone said outside of the Nuggets locker room following the win.
Recently acquired veteran guard Devin Harris echoed those thoughts, saying, "Anytime a guy can get a triple-double at halftime, you know he's a heck of a player."
The man himself, however, was a bit more subdued. Besides joking about being just two turnovers shy of a quadruple-double, or "tragic-double," as he called it, Jokic showed little extra emotion.
"I just started playing well, and making shots," Jokic said after the win. "I didn't have any extra motivation or anything like that though. I'm just playing the same way I always play. Maybe I was a little more aggressive tonight, but I'm playing the same."
Not even his remarkable behind-the-back assist out of a trap in the corner was able to impress Jokic. "Actually that was an easy one," he remarked postgame. "The defense don't expect that, so you just need to work on that pass."
Regardless of how much personal excitement Jokic gets from the performance, it was one both he and the Nuggets should be proud of. It was also one that has Malone dreaming of how much fun it will be to continue coaching the budding star.
"We feel that we have the most dynamic, best facilitator, best play-making young player in the NBA," Malone raved after the win. "It's gonna be really fun to grow with him and see where this team and organization can go."