Nuggets Warriors Basketball

Warriors forward Draymond Green, right, is defended by Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon during the first half of a preseason game Wednesday in San Francisco.

Precautions were taken before the Denver Nuggets put Nikola Jokic on the court for the first time this season Wednesday at Golden State.

After missing the start of training camp to be present for the birth of his first child, Jokic did not play in Monday’s preseason opener in Los Angeles. After practicing Tuesday, he returned to the rotation Wednesday and finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists in 16 minutes, all of which came in the first half, in Denver’s 118-116 loss.

“It will be great to get him out there for the guys that haven’t played with him to kind of create that on-court chemistry,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said pregame. “As we all know in Denver, he’s such a big part of what we do. Playing with an MVP makes everybody’s job easier. It’s really just about getting Nikola out there and getting him some game minutes, some game conditioning and playing through him and getting everybody comfortable.”

Jordan Poole led Golden State with 17 points.

With Will Barton III (ankle) and Michael Porter Jr. (knee) sidelined with minor injuries, Aaron Gordon added 16 points, and PJ Dozier chipped in 13 for the Nuggets. Barton was listed as doubtful Tuesday, while Porter was probable to play with left knee soreness. Denver decided to play it safe and smudge the arena ahead of Jokic's return to game action after Barton and Jamal Murray were injured on the Chase Center court late in last year’s regular season.

“Nikola is a huge part or what we do on both ends of the floor. Having him back here, we had a really good practice yesterday afternoon here in this building. We burned some incense and sage to ward off all the evil spirits that are in this place,” Malone joked before the game. “Hopefully, that was successful, but it’s just great to have Nikola back.”

Monte Morris, Austin Rivers, PJ Dozier and Aaron Gordon started alongside Jokic in Denver's second preseason game. JaMychal Green, who finished with 12 points, started the second half in Jokic’s place.

The Nuggets host the Timberwolves in their only home game of the preseason on Friday before closing the preseason next Wednesday and Thursday in Oklahoma City. Denver’s season-opener is Oct. 20 in Phoenix.

Load comments