Warriors’ Draymond Green on Nikola Jokic’s Game 3 performance: “He got the better of me”

Nikola Jokic won his individual matchup against Draymond Green for nearly four quarters at Ball Arena.

But that narrative flipped with 34.7 seconds left in regulation.

The Nuggets dropped Game 3 to the Warriors on Thursday at Ball Arena, 118-113, to fall behind 3-0 in their first-round playoff series. Golden State clinched the victory when Green — while playing with five fouls — stripped Jokic as he tried to back through Green into the lane.

“On the first dribble, when he hit me, I thought I still had inside position. Then he took the second one and it was far away from his body,” Green said. “So, I’m already thinking right there: ‘If he takes one more dribble, I’m stabbing at it.’ I felt like my body was released enough from him to where I can get a reach-in, and if I don’t get it, I can still be in good position. … I just went for it and I was able to get my hand on it.”

Jokic gave credit where it was due.

“(Green) is a great player,” Jokic said. “He knows how to play with contact and he’s really aggressive.”

Call it a sour end to an otherwise brilliant Jokic performance. He scored a game-high 37 points on 63.6% shooting from the floor (14 of 22) with 18 rebounds and five assists. Jokic also converted his first made 3-pointer of the series.

“He got the better of me,” Green said. “He was incredible tonight. He finished around the rim, he finished floaters, he finished mid-range jump shots and he made threes. He did everything tonight. … As I always say, I just want to make him take tough shots. I think I did a poor job of that.”

The respect is mutual. Green led all players with 10 assists in his point-center role conducting Golden State’s dynamic offense.

“He’s their leader defensively and then maybe like a brain on offense,” Jokic said. “He’s finding the guys. He’s sending the screens.”

The Nuggets enter a must-win Game 4 on Sunday night at Ball Arena. Green explained his strategy for containing Jokic in order to advance.

“What I did well the first couple of games is that I made him score over me,” Green said. “I made him have to go through me.”

Jokic remains confident the Nuggets can still make a comeback despite the seemingly impossible odds of earning four consecutive wins against the high-powered Warriors. No team has successfully rallied from a 3-0 deficit in NBA playoff history.

“It’s not over,” Jokic said. “As long as we put in an effort like we did today, we’re going to be fine. They’re a great team. But we’ve shown ourselves we can play with them and it can be a really interesting game. Just continue to do that.”

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