Jokic, who is Denver’s leader in scoring (15.5 points per game), rebounding (10.6 per game) and assists (4.6 per game), is expected to be out beyond Saturday, a league source told The Denver Post Friday evening. Jokic underwent an MRI Friday that revealed no further damage beyond a sprain, the source added.
Following Saturday’s matchup against the Lakers, the Nuggets hit the road for games at Dallas, New Orleans, Orlando, Indiana, Detroit and Boston. Denver is 3-7 on the road this season.
Jokic sustained the injury late in the first half of Thursday’s win against the Chicago Bulls. He fell to the floor in pain after driving the lane, planting his left foot on Bulls guard Jerian Grant and twisting his ankle. Jokic immediately tried to hobble to the locker room before remaining on the court to shoot two free throws. Jokic received X-rays at halftime that came back negative, coach Michael Malone said, but did not return to the game.
The Nuggets (12-9) could be without their entire starting frontcourt against the Lakers. All-star power forward Paul Millsap is out for multiple months while recovering from reconstructive wrist surgery, while Wilson Chandler has missed three of Denver’s last five games with lower back pain. Chandler is listed as questionable for Saturday’s contest.
Mason Plumlee is Denver’s backup center, while Trey Lyles and Kenneth Faried can also play the position. Juancho Hernangomez has started in place of Chandler the past two games and can also play power forward when the Nuggets opt to go small.
“If (Jokic) can’t go, so what?” Malone said following Thursday’s win. “Mason Plumlee, Trey Lyles, Kenneth Faried, somebody else will take his place.”
Jokic previously rolled his right ankle in a Nov. 22 loss at Houston but returned to that contest following a few minutes of treatment in the locker room.
Footnote: Denver transferred two-way player Torrey Craig back to the G-League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce Friday. Craig was called up Tuesday and made his NBA debut the Nuggets’ loss at Utah, totaling one rebound in six minutes. He did not play in Thursday’s win against the Chicago Bulls. Under a two-way contract, Craig is permitted to spend 45 total days with the Nuggets throughout the 2017-18 season and will play the rest of the year in the G-League.