DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic recorded his 29th triple-double of the season as the Denver Nuggets defeated the lame Philadelphia 76ers 116-111 Monday night.
This puts the second MVP nominees in what many felt could have decided whether or not Embiid, who received the second most votes in the last two years, could end Jokic’s two consecutive nominations. The match being played has been reverted.RELATED
With Embiid in the locker room, Jokic had 25 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists.
The MVP matchup didn’t cross Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers’ mind.
“It wasn’t a hard decision for us,” he said of Embiid’s withdrawal.Embiid complained of sore muscles during morning practice after playing days away from home over the weekend.
Rivers said he wasn’t sure if Embiid’s injury would be of concern, but calf pain tends to take longer to heal and could lead to more serious foot problems.
“Everybody wants to see these two go head-to-head,” Rivers said. I hope he and the whole team are healthy heading into the playoffs.”
Embiid, the league’s leading scorer, struggled against Chicago last week and Rivers kept him on the bench throughout the second half. Embiid was back in the lineup and it looked like his troubles were behind him as he scored 46 points at Golden State and 28 at Phoenix.
The Sixers were also without James Harden (Achilles tendon) for the fourth straight game, losing three in a row in the season’s longest skid.
Tyrese Maxey scored 23 of 29 points in the first half to keep the 76ers in the game. They were down 61-57 at halftime and were up to 22 down before the drive put him within 114-111 with 29 seconds remaining.