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Nikola Jokic leaves game with right knee contusion; Malone said it doesn’t look serious

Nikola Jokic was playing like an MVP: 24 points on 8-of-9 shooting with six boards and six assists in 15 minutes, and the game wasn’t even at halftime yet.

Then with less than two minutes left in the second quarter, Jokic was defending Rudy Gobert on the left block, Gobert faced up and tried to drive baseline, and the knees of the two men collided. Jokic went to the ground, grabbing his knee and putting the hearts in the throats of Nuggets fans everywhere.

Jokic left the game and did not return.

He did come out and test the knee during halftime warmups, but the Nuggets made the wise decision — especially four games into the season — not to take any chances. Jokic sat out the second half.

After the game, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said the injury didn’t appear to be too serious.

Denver has been dramatically better with the reigning MVP Jokic on the court season — in his 118 minutes on the court the Nuggets are +37, in the 74 minutes he sat they are -43 — and in Tuesday’s game he scored a team-high 24 points and was a team-best +7 in his 15 minutes before being injured. They are not the same team without him, especially with starting point guard Jamal Murray out, recovering from his torn ACL.

It’s unclear how long Jokic will be out, but it doesn’t sound like too long. Denver hosts Dallas on Friday, then heads out on the road for games in Minnesota and Memphis.