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Sports NBA bubble breakdown: Gregg Popovich says Nikola Jokic is 'like a reincarnation of Larry Bird'

13:46  06 august  2020
13:46  06 august  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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Denver rookie Michael Porter Jr. remained red hot at the NBA restart with 30 points and 15 rebounds in the Nuggets' win over the Spurs Wednesday. Pop: Jokic is ' like a reincarnation of Larry Bird '. "They've never seen anything like that ," Popovich said of his younger players trying to defend Jokic .

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has admired the play of Nikola Jokic before, but he took his praise of the Denver Nuggets big man to new levels on Day 7 of play in the NBA bubble.

Speaking Wednesday after the Nuggets' 132-126 victory over the Spurs, Popovich said Jokic "is like a reincarnation of Larry Bird."

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Nikola Jokic didn’t play his best game Wednesday in San Antonio, but after logging six straight double-doubles followed by a frustrated ejection vs. the Nuggets eye redemption vs. Spurs as Nikola Jokic gets Gregg Popovich endorsement. After falling in San Antonio, Denver gets to run it back in the Mile

Underneath the same basket Nikola Jokic rattled with a thunderous dunk that brought down the Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs walks off the court at the end of the fourth quarter of the “I hope … that people are tuning in and watching us, and saying : “Man, this kid Nikola Jokic is for real.’

"He does everything, he's amazing," Pop added.

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Jokic scored 25 points and dished out 11 assists in 32 minutes of play Wednesday, his second straight game in the bubble with at least 25 points and 10 assists. The 7-footer entered the day averaging 20.3 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game on the season.

Nikola Jokic holding a basketball: Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic drives against San Antonio Spurs forward Drew Eubanks during Wednesday's game. © Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic drives against San Antonio Spurs forward Drew Eubanks during Wednesday's game.

Bird, the legendary Boston Celtics forward, was amazingly versatile over his 13-year Hall-of-Fame career, averaging 24.3 points, 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.

Popovich clearly sees that versatility in the 25-year-old Jokic, too.

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"And Jokic , he's like a reincarnation of Larry Bird . Meanwhile, Jokic wowed Popovich after the All-Star center had 25 points, 11 assists and four rebounds -- three coming on the offensive glass. "They've never seen anything like that ," Popovich said of his younger players trying to defend Jokic .

Wednesday's games

Jazz 124, Grizzlies 115: Memphis' hold on the No. 8 seed is increasingly perilous as the Grizzlies have not yet won a game in the NBA bubble, falling to 0-4 so far in Orlando.

76ers 108, Wizards 98: There was concern after Ben Simmons was forced from the game due to a knee injury, but thankfully for the Sixers he is reportedly day-to-day.

Nuggets 132, Spurs 126: In addition to Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. had a huge performance, scoring 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting and pulling down 15 rebounds.

Thunder 105, Lakers 86: LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for just 28 points and Los Angeles was held to a season-low 86 as a whole.

Raptors 109, Magic 99: The defending champs stayed unbeaten in the bubble, while Orlando suffered another injury to a key player.

Celtics 149, Nets 115: Boston was on fire from the field as they pulled away early and never looked back.

Thursday's schedule

All times Eastern. All games available on League Pass.

Pop praises Jokic, compares him to Larry Bird, Moses Malone

  Pop praises Jokic, compares him to Larry Bird, Moses Malone San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had some high praise for Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic after the Nuggets beat the Spurs on Wednesday. "He's like a reincarnation of Larry Bird," Popovich said, according to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk. "He does everything. He's amazing." Jokic scored 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting while dishing out 11 assists and grabbing four rebounds. Popovich also likened the big man's inside-outside game to Hall of Fame center Moses Malone."He's stepping out and making threes. He's rebounding the ball," the veteran coach said. "There should be an NBA rule, you can't tap it to yourself. He's Moses Malone.

Everything that went down Tuesday on Day 6 of play in the NBA bubble , and what you can look forward to on Wednesday. Contenders like the league-best Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics, and the Los Angeles Clippers are all just 1-2 since the restart.

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  • Pelicans vs. Kings, 1:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
  • Heat vs. Bucks, 4 p.m. (TNT)
  • Pacers vs. Suns, 4 p.m.
  • Clippers vs. Mavericks, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
  • Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets, 8 p.m.
  • Lakers vs. Rockets, 9 p.m. (TNT)

State of the playoff race

There was no movement in the East as the Nets, Magic and Wizards all lost. Brooklyn remains a half game ahead of Orlando.

The West is still pretty wide-open, as the Nuggets' win moved them a half game back of the Clippers for the No. 2 seed. The Jazz moved into the No. 4 spot with their win and the Thunder into the No. 5 spot with their victory, dropping the Rockets into the No. 6 space. At the bottom of the West, the Grizzlies' lead the Trail Blazers by one game, with the Spurs and Pelicans one game behind Portland and the Suns a half game behind them.

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Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NBA , but the final seconds of the series-deciding first-round matchup included a Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets had the ball with about 28 seconds left. The Spurs were down four. You do not have to be a professional basketball coach

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA bubble breakdown: Gregg Popovich says Nikola Jokic is 'like a reincarnation of Larry Bird'

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