All the Nuggets enjoy a life-sustaining relationship with their star. Witness the Denver offense at its best when the wings are satellites orbiting around their big soft sun, Nikola Jokic. He hangs doughy and resplendent in the high post, watching them whirl and cut, waiting for them to align just right so he can beam them nourishment in the form of blasé dimes.
The whole team benefits from his vision, but the connection between Jokic and zippy point guard Jamal Murray is especially pure, and they have become perhaps the most psychically-linked duo in the league. Of the 273 assists the big man has racked up on the season, a full 72 have gone to Murray, making him far and away Jokic’s favorite target on the roster. Almost every one is a tiny joy.
Thursday night, coming off a droopy two-point first half, the Canadian cooked the Kings for 17 points in the third and then heaped on another 17 in the fourth, leading the way to an entertaining 117-113 win. Sure, one thrill of watching Murray is his loose, slippery-fish way of finding his own shot off the bounce, but even better is his bond with his big:
This one, with a mid-air finish, might be their signature move:
The Jokic-Murray two-man game is a happy engine for an offense. Since Murray can get so creative with his paths of tearing around screens, and since both are willing and able shooters from deep (Murray’s cold start to the season notwithstanding), they can be extremely difficult to shut up. At their best, the two spend entire games buzzing around within mere feet of each other, like a pair of dragonflies getting busy over a lazy creek.
So let this blog stand as tribute to their increasing chemistry this season. The alley-oops rule:
There’s usually a grunt involved:
And they’ve even better when hidden in the guise of a jumper:
Inch-perfect bounce passes are good, too:
Because Jokic has little trouble sending his sweet nothings through traffic:
And if you find yourself stuck in mid-air with nowhere to go and no ideas, there’s no better pal to bail you out:
Murray can be devious with his weight-shifting feints when diving to the rim, beating his man cleanly and making life easier for Jokic:
And especially satisfying are those cases where Jokic just exploits his height to loft one over both defenders’ heads and right into the pocket:
Congrats to the happy couple.