London trip just the ticket for Nuggets
A trans-Atlantic trek proved just the tonic the Denver Nuggets needed Thursday as they snapped a five-game NBA skid with a comprehensive 140-112 victory over the Indiana Pacers in London.
Nikola Jokic scored 22 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and handed out seven assists and Wilson Chandler added 21 points for Denver in the NBA Global Games showcase at O2 Arena.
It was billed as a home game for the Nuggets, but Jokic said the three-day stay in unfamiliar territory was even more advantageous to the team than a true homestand.
"We had a little more time to be with each other. Usually when we travel it's just one day but we had a little bit more bonding and everybody knows each other better," Jokic said. "This is good for our future."
The Nuggets offense was clicking, with a season-high 37 assists and 73 points in the second half -- also a season-high.
C.J. Miles led Indiana with 20 points off the bench and Jeff Teague scored 14, but the Pacers saw their five-game winning streak snapped as the Nuggets held Paul George to 10 points on just two-for-12 shooting.
"We've been playing well and tonight we weren't even close to the team we've been this season," Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. "We knew Denver was going to be hungry after dropping five games, we knew they would come out aggressive."
McMillan didn't blame the Pacers' performance on the venue.
"They traveled farther than we did," he said. "We had to prepare just as Denver did."
It was the seventh NBA regular-season game played in London and the first since January 14 of last year, when the Toronto Raptors beat the Orlando Magic.
Both teams had backers among the enthusiastic crowd.
"I haven't played in front of crowd like that since the World Cup Games," Denver reserve Kenneth Faried said on the Nuggets' television broadcast. "It was nice to see. It was a packed arena and it was a great atmosphere."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver took the opportunity to discuss the growing global reach of the game.
He noted that in a "new milestone" reached this season 25 percent of the league's players were born outside the United States.
Of 113 foreign-born players, Silver said, "roughly half those players, 61 of our international players, were born here in Europe".
He also noted that basketball is the number one sport in China, and advancing technology and social media is only hastening the league's growth worldwide.
"This past season, one billion people on this planet watched some portion of an NBA game," Silver said. "That’s one in seven people in the world watched some portion of an NBA game. And we now have 1.3 billion people following our league — meaning a team, a player, the league proper — on social media. So it’s incredible numbers."
© 2017 AFP