Jokic shines as Nuggets take play-off series lead

Nikola Jokic scored 40 points as reigning NBA champions the Denver Nuggets secured a 112-97 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves to go 3-2 ahead in their Western Conference play-off semi-final series.

The Serb was named the league’s Most Valuable Player for the third time last week and picked up the award before the match in Denver.

Jokic, 29, added 13 assists and seven rebounds to turn the series around after the Nuggets had lost the opening two games of the semi-finals.

“Whenever he gets it going like that, you let him dictate how the game’s going to go,” said Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray, who added 16 points.

“Getting the trophy tonight probably motivated him a little bit, being at home.

“It was a lot of fun and the place was rocking. He had it going so the game plan was give him the ball and he’ll figure it out.”

The series goes back to Minneapolis for game six on Thursday.

In the Eastern Conference semi-finals, Jalen Brunson scored 44 points as the New York Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers 121-91 to take a 3-2 lead in their play-off series.

The Knicks had lost their last two matches but rotated their team to take victory in New York as Alec Burks scored 18 points off the bench with several players out injured.

“We’ve been short-handed all year and this is our way,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.

“We have to play hard as heck on every possession and we’ve got to keep doing it. And we know if we defend and we rebound, take care of the ball, we’re going to have a good chance to win.”