Kevin Durant praises Nikola Jokic after Nuggets eliminate Suns: 'He'll go down as one of the all-time great centers'
The curtains came down on the Phoenix Suns' season as the Denver Nuggets stormed into the Western Conference Finals with a dominant 125-100 win in Game 6.
As we've come to expect, it was another Nikola Jokic masterpiece as the MVP runner-up piled up 32 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds and three blocks — his fifth triple-double of the 2023 postseason. No other player has more than one.
MORE: Nikola Jokic continues his climb up the NBA Playoffs triple-doubles list
Despite the disappointment of another early playoff exit, Suns star Kevin Durant was quick to credit Jokic's dominant display against his team, calling him one of the best bigs to ever do it.
“Jokic is an all-time great," Durant said postgame. "He’ll go down as one of the all-time great centers to ever touch a basketball.
"He went out there and did what he was supposed to do.”
"I always knew how great he was...I wasn't surprised at all...he'll go down as one of the all-time great centers that ever touched a basketball"— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 12, 2023
Kevin Durant on Nikola Jokic pic.twitter.com/vmwqNL53Cw
Jokic has the most triple-doubles of any center in NBA playoffs history, ahead of Wilt Chamberlain (9) and is now tied with Jason Kidd (11) for the fourth-most ever, trailing only Russell Westbrook (12), LeBron James (28) and Magic Johnson (30).
Joker is only the 3rd player NBA history to average a 30+ point triple-double in a Playoff series 👀— NBA History (@NBAHistory) May 12, 2023
LeBron James – 2017 NBA Finals
33.6 PTS, 12 REB, 10 AST
Russell Westbrook – 2017 WC First Round
37.4 PTS, 11.6 REB, 10.8 AST
Nikola Jokic – 2023 WC Semifinals
34.5 PTS, 13.2…
Durant makes no excuses
Jokic powered the Nuggets to a 44-26 lead at the end of the first quarter, extending their advantage to 81-51 at the half — their largest halftime lead in a playoff game in franchise history. Their 81 points are also the most scored in a first half by a road team in playoff history, per ESPN Stats & Info.
With Jokic pulling the strings through the first 24 minutes, piling up 20 points, seven assists, and six rebounds on 10-of-12 shooting, the Suns had few answers for the Serbian's dominance, with their star duo struggling to match his production. Kevin Durant managed just eight points on 4-of-11 shooting, while Devin Booker had 11 points on 4-of-12 in the opening half.
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With the Suns' season on the line, they needed more from their scoring duo and Durant put his hand up postgame, making no excuses for his lackluster showing in Game 6.
“It’s all on me, to be honest," he said.
"Like, I said, I feel like I prepared the right way, I took the shots that I wanted to take. Sometimes, I probably rushed a lot of my looks...but at the end of the day, it’s all going to fall back on me.”
"So I'll watch film throughout this summer, watch different actions that I was presented throughout the year and see how I can keep improving. "
The Nuggets will now await the winner of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers as they look to make their first trip to the NBA Finals in franchise history, while it's back to the drawing board for the Suns, who will look to re-tool their roster around Durant and Booker.