NBA roundup: Celtics defense smothers Jokić, Suns snatch overtime win
Denver, Colorado - The ascending Boston Celtics added another scalp to their resume, holding reigning MVP Nikola Jokić to his season-worst shooting percentage in a 124-104 win over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
In a stunning year-on-year improvement, the Celtics have been the best defense in the NBA this season after finishing 17th in that department this past season.
With new coach Ime Udoka going all-in on a switching defensive system, it was theoretically going to be tested against the best passing big man in league history, and arguably the league's most dominant offensive force.
However, Jokić was bottled up similarly to everyone else the Celtics have played in 2022, going eight-of-23 (34.7%) from the field in the blowout loss.
Jokić, who is shooting 57 per cent from the field for the season, had previously had his worst shooting performance when he went six-of-17 (35.3%) in an early-December loss against the Chicago Bulls.
Boston's two superstar wings combined for 60 points, as Jayson Tatum posted 30 points (11-of-17 shooting, six-of-10 from three) with seven assists, while Jaylen Brown had 30 points (12-of-19 shooting, three-of-six from three) with six rebounds.
Around the league
The best team in basketball this year, the Phoenix Suns, survived its top two players getting fouled-out to come away with a 127-124 overtime win against the Sacramento Kings.
Former number one pick Deandre Ayton (12 points and 10 rebounds) fouled out with one minute remaining in regulation, before star Devin Booker followed suit in overtime after scoring a game-high 31 points on 11-of-21 shooting.
Sacramento rookie Davion Mitchell caught the eye, scoring 28 points (nine-of-22 shooting, four-of-seven from three) to go with nine assists.
With Steph Curry missing due to an injury that could keep him out until the end of the regular season, the Golden State Warriors went down 110-108 at home against the San Antonio Spurs.
Warrior tandem Jordan Poole (28 points on 11-of-21 shooting) and Klay Thompson (24 points on nine-of-22 shooting, 6-of-12 from three) played well, but it was not enough as the home side had fewer three-pointers (15-11) and free throws (19-15), and more turnovers (15-11).
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers only scored 51 points after quarter time in their 93-88 home loss against the Toronto Raptors.
MVP favorite Joel Embiid shot a disappointing six-of-20 from the field for his 21 points, while Raptor Pascal Siakam was the game's top performer with 26 points (10-of-20 shooting) to go with 10 rebounds and five assists.
Cover photo: IMAGO / Icon SMI