Mikal Bridges’ incredible start to his Brooklyn Net career continued Sunday as he led his team to a 122-120 win over the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets despite Nikola Jokic’s massive triple-double.
Bridges, 26, came to Brooklyn from Phoenix as a central figure in the Kevin Durant trade, and he’s lived up to even the highest expectations of what he could come up with as a crime center.
During his time with the Suns, Bridges played in a supporting role and averaged a career-high 17.2 points per game that season. It’s the fifth straight season he’s improved his points per game, all with career shooting splits of 49.9 percent from field, 37.6 percent from depth and 85.2 percent from the free throw line.
In his 12 games since joining the Nets, Bridges has shown he is actually capable of picking up a lead, averaging 25.8 points while maintaining his elite efficiency of 51.4 percent from the field, 49 .2 percent from depth and 90 percent at line.
Against the Nuggets, Bridges again led his team with 25 points in seven-of-16 shooting while Spencer Dinwiddie, who won with the trade deadline, racked up a career-high 16 assists to go with his 15 points (five of 15) and to go six rebounds.
After a perfect start to the season 25-0 in games when reigning back-to-back MVP Jokic hit a triple-double, Denver’s 35 points (14 of 23) and 20 rebounds are now down two straight losses and 11 Assists that prove not enough to make up for Jamal Murray’s frigid five-of-19 night of filming.
The Nets have now won five of their last six and improved to 39-29 and are 3.5 games ahead of play-in tournament standings, while the 46-22 Nuggets are still five games ahead of the West.
Murphy’s big night wears the pelicans
Sophomore winger Trey Murphy III lost a career-high 41 points as the New Orleans Pelicans defended their home field 127-110 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
With Damian Lillard out for Portland, not a single player had more than 17 points while Murphy caught fire.
The 22-year-old hit 13 of 20 shots and nine of 14 three-pointers, beating his previous high by nine points as he hit the 30-point mark for the third time.
Much like Bridges, Murphy has distinguished himself on an extended occasion, adding a silver lining to the absences of Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.
Embiid too big, too strong for the magicians
Philadelphia 76ers MVP candidate Joel Embiid was again the most dominant player on Sunday in 112-93 against the Washington Wizards.
Embiid, who is leading the race for the scoring title at 33.4 points per game, slightly upped his 34-point average on 12-of-21 shooting and added eight rebounds, four assists, four blocks and a steal.
James Harden, who leads the league with 10.8 assists per game, made life easier for his center with another 14 cents and 18 points (six of 11).
The win marks the 76ers’ fifth straight win and they now sit just 1.5 games behind the Boston Celtics (47-21) as they both try to chase down the conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks (48-19).