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NBA - US Sports: Denver coach backs Jokic's MVP case

Denver coach Michael Malone said Nikola Jokic deserves to win this season's MVP award after the Nuggets secured a top-six spot in the Western Conference with a 122-109 victory over Memphis Grizzlies.

Jokic is 3/10 to be named as the regular season MVP for the second year in a row, Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is 9/4 and two-time winner Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is 7/1.

The Nuggets made sure they avoided the play-in tournament with a convincing win over Memphis, who were without star man Ja Morant for the ninth game in a row due to a knee issue.

Denver led by four points at the end of the first quarter and were never behind from that point as they secured the win they needed to guarantee a top six finish in the West.

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Jokic finished with 35 points, 16 rebounds, six assists to make NBA history as he became the first player to manage 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season, and Malone says the Serbian center deserves to be named MVP for the second season in a row.

"The MVP isn't even a competition," said Malone after the game, via TSN. "There's other great players, I'm not saying they're not great players."

Jokic even better says Malone

"But what he has done this year - with this team - everything we've had to go through, is just incredible. He was good last year and he's even better this year."

Jokic has managed to lead Denver to a top-six finish despite the absences of fellow stars Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.

Porter Jr has managed nine appearances, while Murray has been sidelined all season, but there have been suggestions that both could return during the play-offs.

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