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Nikola Jokic Interrupted Coach Mike Malone's Speech To Claim The Defensive Player Of The Game Chain After Game-Saving Block Against The Raptors

Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic is an offensive machine, doing things on that side of the ball that have never been done by a big man. His numbers are staggering and his impact has allowed the Denver Nuggets to stay relevant in the playoff Western Conference playoff picture despite dealing with horrific injuries to other star players over this season and the last. However, Jokic often gets criticism for a perceived lack of defense.

He made an emphatic statement against that in Saturday night's win over the Toronto Raptors, getting in a block that allowed the Nuggets to seal a narrow win and improve their record to 31-25. With the score at 110-109, Fred VanVleet's shot from three-point range rimmed out before fortuitously falling to OG Anunoby. He went up for an easy layup to win the game but was met at the rim by Jokic who denied him in style. 

That block was the play of the game as it ended up being the difference between a win and a loss and Jokic knew exactly how important his contribution had been. When coach Mike Malone went into the locker room after the win to give his post-game speech and hand out Denver's 'Defensive Player of the Game' chain, Jokic interrupted his coach and grabbed the chain, much to the amusement of his teammates. 

Jokic is performing at an MVP level once again after having won the award last season with a historic regular season. His improved effort on defense and make winning plays has been a huge bonus and one that arguably isn't talked about enough around the league. His defensive rebounds per 100 possessions are the highest they have ever been at 16.4 and his defensive box plus-minus is a cool +4.8. Stats are not everything when it comes to defense but it is safe to say that the Joker can no longer be dismissed as a presence on the defensive end.