LeVert’s clutch floater edges Jokic, Nuggets
Embiid shines as 76ers remain perfect at home
>> LOS ANGELES: Caris LeVert nailed a clutch shot with 0.3 seconds left to spoil a slump-breaking night by Nikola Jokic as the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets 112-110 on Friday.
Jokic got hot for a change, but the Nuggets still couldn’t cool off the Nets who have won four of their last five games.
The 23-year-old Jokic is normally a dynamic seven-foot playmaker but he has been out of sorts and reluctant to score lately.
That wasn’t the case on Friday as the Serbian all-star finished with a season-high 37 points and tied a career-best 21 rebounds.
But the Nets played to the final buzzer by scoring the final six points, including LeVert’s game-winning floater in the lane.
D’Angelo Russell led the Nets with 23 points, and Jarrett Allen had 18.
Jokic had 11 points in the first quarter and a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds at half-time.
After averaging 21.6 points in October, Jokic saw his offence disappear in November.
He has taken only 18 shots in four games, and the only one he took on Wednesday in a loss to Memphis was a missed three-pointer in the final seconds that would have won it.
Before the game, he was slapped with a US$25,000 fine for a derogatory joke made after a win in Chicago on Oct 31.
The Nets tied it with 29 seconds left and Jokic was called for travelling with 22 seconds left.
On the winning play, LeVert got the ball and was covered by Gary Harris. He barged through the tight defence to get into the lane and hit a slick floater.
“I just wanted to make the last shot and the shot that I wanted. I pretty much knew it was going in,” LeVert said.
Elsewhere, Joel Embiid finished with 42 points and 18 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers improved to 7-0 at home with a 133-132 win in overtime over the Charlotte Hornets.
Embiid scored 16 points in the fourth including a game-tying three pointer with 34 seconds left on the clock.
“They call me ‘clutch’ for a reason, so got to make them,” Embiid said. “Sometimes I want to show my finesse. I can do everything on the basketball court. I try to mix it up.”
Ben Simmons, who has been struggling of late, returned to form and finished with 22 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds for the 76ers.
Kemba Walker scored 19 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter for the Hornets, who were coming off backto-back victories over Cleveland and Atlanta.
Charlotte stormed back from a 21-point deficit and led by five points with 78 seconds remaining. But the Hornets squandered an opportunity to win it after they were called for a shot clock violation with time winding down in the fourth.
The Hornets also ran into foul trouble late in the game. Cody Zeller and Dwayne Bacon each picked up six fouls and Bacon fouled out in overtime. Bacon finished with 15 points in only his fifth game of the season.
The 76ers were coming off their first road win of the season, a 100-94 victory over Indiana on Wednesday.
Embiid welcomes going to the free-throw line where he is shooting 81.8 percent this season, up from 76.9 percent in 2017-18.
“He’s a really good shooter and he’s confident by nature, so that’s a pretty good collision of skill and mind,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said.
“You trust him going to the line and shooting a high percentage. He’s not afraid of the moment.”
In Salt Lake City, Joe Ingles tied his career high with 27 points to help the Utah Jazz beat the Boston Celtics 123-115 in Gordon Hayward’s return to Utah.
Hayward had 13 points and seven assists in his first game back in Utah since leaving the Jazz after becoming a free agent following the 2016-17 season.
Nets guard Caris LeVert, right, floats over the Nuggets defence to hit the winning basket with 0.3 seconds left.