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NBA wrap: Nikola Jokic makes history as Nuggets, Wolves enter All-Star break with wins

The Nuggets entered the All-Star break winners of six of their last seven while the Timberwolves capped Thursday’s two-game slate with a 119-111 win over the Lakers.

Denver tied a franchise record with 24 3-pointers made (one shy of NBA record) on 40 attempts en route to a 134-123 win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.

Nikola Jokic reaped the benefits of the shootout, tallying 30 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high 17 assists. The Nuggets big man recorded a triple-double with 1:54 remaining in the second quarter. With the rare feat, Jokic became the fastest to record a triple-double in NBA history (14 minutes, 33 seconds of playing time).

Minnesota honored late head coach and executive Flip Saunders with a moving pre-game ceremony. Sam Cassell, Latrell Sprewell, Gary Trent, Troy Hudson, and Chauncey Billups were among Saunders’ former players attending the game.

Saunders died Oct. 25, 2015 after a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s the winningest coach in Timberwolves history after serving two stints with the team �� the first time from 1995-2005 and again in 2014-15.

All-Star weekend begins Friday in Los Angeles with the Celebrity Game (7 p.m. ET) and the Rising Stars Challenge (9 p.m. ET). Sixers teammates Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will lead the World Team in the Rising Stars Challenge against U.S. Team’s Brandon Ingram, Donovan Mitchell and Co.

While a plethora of original All-Star players were injured and out of this game, the replacements stepped in and helped provide a fresh twist on the NBA’ All-Star experience. Hopefully the game can remain this enthralling because the top sports leagues should be able to entice fans with competitive games featuring its top stars.

2. Damian Lillard played with a purpose �� The Trail Blazers’ star point guard has been snubbed from the previous two All-Star teams, and he’s been among the first to talk about the disappointment. But this year, Lillard made the team and played like he had something to prove. He finished the game with 21 points, three rebounds and two assists, even earning a start in the second half.

Lillard has received some flack from fellow NBA stars (namely Russell Westbrook) for being so outspoken about his All-Star disappointment, but Lillard is one of the best players in the NBA, and he played like it Sunday night.

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