Nikola Jokic was almost able to single handily lead the Denver Nuggets to a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. They couldn’t find an answer for him on defense. If it wasn’t for Anthony Davis hitting a game-winning 3, Jokic would’ve been credited with the game-winner. Despite his excellent game, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard were relentless in their trash talk of the big man.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, McGee and Howard were all over Jokic when he’d guard Davis:
Late in the first quarter of the Lakers’ Western Conference finals Game 2 victory on Sunday, Davis walked to his post spot near the Lakers’ bench while Denver Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. was at the line. Nikola Jokic followed Davis and the two bigs were all alone.
Once the Lakers’ bench saw it was Jokic tasked with guarding Davis, it brought the noise with JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard screaming, “Thanksgiving, steak dinner, appetizers, filet mignon and potatoes, a glass of champagne!”
McGee and Howard didn’t really play against the Houston Rockets so they have a bunch of energy. The two big men have been among the most animated on the Lakers’ already animated bench.
Howard Took Trash Talk to Nuggets Bench
Apparently Howard wasn’t content with his trash talk of Jokic. After Davis hit the game-winner, the former Defensive Player of the Year went directly after the Nuggets’ bench, which caused issues, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic:
“Go home!” he yelled over and over while laughing, jumping, pumping his fist and getting closer to the Nuggets’ side of the floor with every second. “Go home!”
A small group of Nuggets staffers, including one of Jokic’s biggest supporters in assistant strength and conditioning coach Felipe Eichenberger, did not take kindly to the mocking that had taken place all game long and returned to the court to shout back. The two sides exchanged words, and eventually retreated to their corners that came with conflicting emotions.
There’s nothing wrong with trash talk as most NBA players do it. However, Howard probably took it a little too far. He was likely just a little too jacked up over the fact that he’s playing more minutes. Howard is a very passionate player so the trash talk isn’t going to stop anytime soon.
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Lakers Can’t Get Cocky Yet
While a blowout win is always nice, the Lakers needed a game like this. None of their playoff games had ended in dramatic fashion. Now they know they can still win when things get tough down the stretch.
However, the Lakers cannot get too overconfident yet. We’ve already seen the Nuggets be down two games in a series twice and still come out on top. Los Angeles took their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter of Game 2 and almost paid the price. This Denver team does not give up. Even if the Lakers go up 3-0, they can’t start relaxing. Morale is high after an epic win but it just takes one loss to bring them back down to earth.