The Boston Celtics' first home loss of the 2023-24 season came to the Denver Nuggets on January 19 -- and Nikola Jokic's NBA effort (34 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists) had perhaps the biggest hand in that happenstance.
Kristaps Porzingis, who had a great night himself (21 points, eight rebounds), saw Jokic's dominance firsthand as his primary defender, and after the game, the Latvian center gave the two-time MVP from Serbia his props; calling him the best player in the world.
“He’s the best player in the world and he’s just so crafty,” Porzingis told reporters of Jokic (h/t Boston.com). “Just kind of almost makes you fall asleep like he’s not doing anything and just slides by you. He has so many tricks and so many things that he can do, and then making so many tough shots that are not really tough for him.”
Kristaps Porzingis optimistic about Boston Celtics' future after season's first home loss to Nuggets
Porzingis didn't sound like his feelings were hurt after the Celtics were stunned on their home floor by a seven-plus-point underdog Nuggets squad. In fact, the big man sounded excited about what the contest taught him moving forward.
“I love this even though we lost, it was a great game for us,” Porzingis said. “There are many things that we’re going to look at, and we can study those things. This is a real thing. This is last year’s champs and that’s where we want to be.
“There’s definitely, I think from our side, their side, fans, everybody just kind of knew it was a big matchup and there’s definitely things to take away from this.”
If Porzingis isn't sweating the loss, neither should fans. Regular season losses to happen to the best, and they tend to happen when facing off against defending Finals MVPs who are living up to their legacies.