This triple-double from the rising second-year center, a 17-point, 14-rebound, 11-assist effort, stood out for a different reason than his previous four. Jokic recorded this one in just 22 minutes.
“Not really,” Michael Malone said of if he’s surprised at another triple-double from the former second-round pick. “He’s a guy that we feature a lot. He rebounds the ball at a high level. He’s a willing, capable playmaker. We’ve seen that time and time again.”
Barton finished with a career-high 35 points on 11-17 shooting from the field and 6-9 shooting from three, to go with five rebounds and three assists. However, the most impressive aspect of Barton’s night was that the 26-year old played 17-straight minutes to close out the first half, followed by 18.5 minutes straight over the third and fourth quarters.
“He never gets tired. He’s just an energizer bunny,” Malone said. “And I think the fact that he had been struggling, put together two games like that back-to-back. He didn’t want to come out. He’s feeling good. He’s playing well. He’s hot. Let him play.”
“I’m not thinking about that because I’m a baller,” Barton said of his consecutive minutes. “I’m one of those guys that’ll play 5-on-5 in the gym all day until whoever quits. That’s just who I’ve been my whole life so I don’t even think about that. I’m just happy to be out there playing. I’m like this can go on forever if it’s up to me.”
Elsewhere for Denver, Kenneth Faried, in his first game back from a low back injury that forced the power forward to miss the Nuggets’ last nine games, scored 12 points and grabbed six boards in 18 minutes. Faried finished tied for a team-high +23 plus-minus.
Coming into tonight’s matchup, the short-handed Nuggets knew they’d need their role players to step up their production and play on both ends of the floor in order to pull out a win. Throughout tonight’s first half, that came in the form of Barton.
After he entered the game at the 5:05 mark of the first quarter, Barton went on to play the next 17 minutes straight, leading the Nuggets with 15 points first-half points on 6-10 shooting.
Barton was visibly gassed as the second quarter wound down, but the 17-minute effort he gave over the first two quarters was the leading factor to Denver carrying a 59-46 lead into halftime.
“He’s hard on himself. He works hard,” Malone said of Barton. “He’s the first guy here every day. I want our fans to know that. Will Barton is a tremendously hard worker and to see him just relaxing, letting the game come to him, making plays. It’s great to see and hopefully, that continues moving forward.”
Plumlee also took it upon himself to step up his efforts on the offensive end of the floor with no Gallinari or Chander.
Plumlee, who started at power forward next to Jokic, attempted eights shots in the first half, the second most on the team to Barton, and finished with a healthy eight points, six rebounds, and three assists over the first two quarters. At one point in the first quarter, Plumlee was 2-6 from the field while the rest of the team was 5-8.
A 9-2 run to start the third allowed the Clippers draw to within six, but that was as close as Los Angeles got. Jokic secured his triple-double around the three-minute mark of the third quarter as Denver coasted to a 129-114 win.
Gallinari (left knee bone bruise), Chandler (right groin contusion) and Darrell Arthur (rest) all missed tonight’s game. The Nuggets hope to have Gallinari and Chandler back in action for Saturday’s matchup against the Rockets.
Blake Griffin (rest) and De’Andre Jordan (rest) did not make the trip to Denver.
Denver hosts Houston Saturday before playing the Rockets in Houston Monday. The Nuggets then welcome in LeBron James and the Cavaliers Wednesday.