Thursday, 30 June 2022

Bojan Bogdanović and Ivica Zubac Discuss Croatia's Chances Against Slovenia Tonight

June 30, 2022 - The Croatia basketball team's last training before leaving for Slovenia was held on Wednesday night. The upcoming matches decide whether Croatia will qualify for the second round of FIBA World Cup qualifications. Croatia's NBA stars Bojan Bogdanović and Ivica Zubac spoke about their chances against Luka Dončić and Slovenia. 

Croatia captain Bojan 'Babo' Bogdanović emphasized: “Both victories are very important to us because the points are transferred to the second round. I hope we will play well, first in Stožice and then in Rijeka, and try to achieve both victories. I'm looking forward to the atmosphere in Stožice; I think it will be great basketball. But we are not complete, we lack a lot of good players, especially players on the ball. We miss Simon, Krušlin; Šarić has not yet recovered… We are quite handicapped by that, but even with those absences, we are strong and quite good, and there are a lot of young players." 

Bogdanović gave his thoughts on Luka Dončić: “He is one of the best players in the world; there is also Goran Dragič, they are very good at pick and roll, and I think we will have a hard time defending one on one, so we have prepared several team defenses that we will try to play against the two of them, and I hope we get results. If we come out with the right energy, I think we have something."

The match in Rijeka is certainly no less important than in Slovenia. Moreover, this match is crucial for entering the second round of qualifications.

"I hope we will come to the match in Rijeka in a good mood and atmosphere. I hope for a great game in Stožice, and then against Finland, it is imperative to win regardless of Thursday's game."

Ivica Zubac, who has not been with the national team for a long time, spoke about what he expects from the upcoming matches: "Victory! We have been preparing for several days. Unfortunately, Bojan and I did not have much time, but we prepared individually and worked well these days. If we stick to what we did in training, both offensively and defensively, we have a chance to win." 

About Luka Dončić: “The plan is to make it as difficult as possible for him, to be as aggressive as possible, to make him work in defense and to attack him in that way. We will not stop him for sure; we can try to slow him down and hope for the best." 

And how does Zubac see himself for Croatia? "I think I've made a lot of progress in the last three or four years, I have more games in my legs and I think I can help a little more than last time."

Coach Damir Mulaomerović, despite his proverbial objectivity, is optimistic: “For me, the most important thing is that we are as ready as we can be. My only regret is that we didn't have Bojan and Zubac for longer. The guys are ready; we know what awaits us - a great game, a strong Slovenia, Luka Dončić… we know what awaits us. I believe in these guys, and what I ask of them is to give their maximum, in the wake of what we did against Sweden for the last twenty minutes and two overtimes, to leave our hearts on the court, and that is what can put us in a positive situation. We were already in a tough situation; we got out, and now we have Bojan, Zubac, and Žiža. We can hope for a good game, and what is important to me as a coach is that we are compact on the court and react well defensively. It is certain that Slovenia also has the pressure to win because each of these matches can decide who goes next."

How to stop Dončić?

"He is a great player, so everyone is asking that question. With individual and team defense, we will try to stop him or force him to shoot as many bad shots as possible. Because of his talent and all that he gives in the NBA and his national team, he is getting better and better. It won't be easy, but we are very motivated. Maybe it is more important that we do not let the rest of their players develop. There are a lot of strong individuals, so I would not say that only Dončić should be stopped."

All 16 players from the preparations went to Slovenia, but only 12 will play at Stožice.

Croatia player list:

  • 1 Toni Perković
  • 2 Goran Filipović
  • 4 Roko Prkačin
  • 8 Mario Hezonja
  • 10 Lovro Gnjidić
  • 11 Tomislav Zubčić
  • 17 Dragan Bender
  • 23 Mateo Drežnjak
  • 32 Roko Rogić
  • 40 Ivica Zubac
  • 41 Ante Toni Žižić
  • 44 Bojan Bogdanović

Both matches are broadcast live by Sport Klub televizija. Tickets for Croatia - Finland can be found at ulaznice.hr.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Bogdanović and Zubac on Croatia Team for 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

June 14, 2022 - Croatia will kick off the next round of 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia away and Finland at home later this month. Croatia will have its NBA starts available for both matches. 

At the end of June, a new qualifying round for the 2023 FIBA World Cup will begin, which will be played in Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines next year. Croatia will play an away match in Slovenia and a home match against Finland in Rijeka.

June 30, 2022, at 20:15 Slovenia - CROATIA (Arena Stožice, Ljubljana)
July 3, 2022, at 20:00 CROATIA - Finland (Zamet Center, Rijeka)

Coach Damir Mulaomerović led Croatia in the last cycle in February, when the national team recorded a defeat and a victory against Sweden. With that victory, Croatia remains in the race for a spot at the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Coach Damir Mulaomerović has shortened the previously published list of players for the national team, and 17 players will participate in the preparations that start on June 15 (NBA players will join later due to NBA rules). 

"There were a lot of unknowns about playing NBA players, and in the meantime, we got confirmation that they can train from June 27 onwards, so only three days before the game. So we have a wider list, and all the players deserve to be on it. From that base, we will select those who will come to the preparations on June 15. So we will invite a few more players because we will not be able to use NBA players until the 27th. Of course, we will also watch who finished the competitions and refresh some guys and I hope that as many of us as possible will come to the initial gathering. We have certain problems because, for example, Karlo Matković is in training in the NBA, but we will solve some problems on the fly and soon publish a short list of players for preparations in Opatija," said coach Mulaomerović on June 7. 

ms-17_6-22-1024x1024.jpeg

Croatia player list:

  • Roko Rogić
  • Goran Filipović
  • Lovro Gnjidić
  • Mate Kalajžić
  • Bojan Bogdanović
  • Mario Hezonja
  • Sven Smajlagić
  • Mateo Drežnjak
  • Toni Perković
  • Ivan Ramljak
  • Roko Prkačin
  • Dario Drežnjak
  • Tomislav Zubčić
  • Dragan Bender
  • Ivica Zubac
  • Ante Toni Žižić
  • Karlo Matković

Source: HKS

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Monday, 7 March 2022

Bojan Bogdanović Makes Jazz Franchise History with Record 11 Threes Scored in Single Game!

March 7, 2022 - Bojan Bogdanović recorded 11 threes in Utah's win against Oklahoma, entering Jazz franchise history! 

Bojan Bogdanovć recorded the best shooting game of his career, scoring 11 three-pointers for a spot in the Jazz franchise and NBA history!

In the 116:103 Utah Jazz victory in Oklahoma City, the Croatian ace scored 35 points, of which 33 were three-pointers, reports Index.hr.

He shot for two points and missed only once in the entire game. He hit two free throws but scored everything else from a distance - 11 threes from 18 attempts. He became the first player in NBA history to score 11 (or more) threes without a single basket for two. 

Screenshot_2022-03-07_at_09.10.11.png

Bogdanović set his personal record and the Utah Jazz record, already in the ninth three-pointer of the game. By the end, he became only the 14th player in history with at least 11 three-pointers scored in a game. The record-holder is Klay Thompson with 14, Zach LaVine and Stephen Curry with 13 each, and Curry, Kobe Bryant, and Donyell Marshall with 12 three-pointers.

This is the 27th time in NBA history that someone has scored 11 three-pointers in a game. Curry has done it 12 times, while Thompson and Damian Lillard are the only players to have done it twice. No one but Bojan has done it in 2022.

 

After the last three-pointer, which broke the game with 43 seconds to go and increased Jazz's advantage from five points to eight, he kept his hand outstretched in the shooting position and waved to the home crowd, returning to the defense. It has become his practice every time he scores a decisive three-pointer. 

Despite this offensive explosion, Bogdanović did not improve his season point record. He played the same team last season with 48 points, which is his career record.

Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points and ten assists, Jordan Clarkson scored 20 points, and Rudy Gobert scored 12 points and 17 rebounds to stand out in the Jazz victory. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the best for the host with 33 points.

The second Croatian basketball player in the NBA league did not have a successful evening. Ivica Zubac remained on four points (2/5 field goals), nine rebounds, and three turnovers in an unexpected and challenging home defeat to the New York Knicks 116:93.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Toni Kukoč Reveals Biggest Problems in Croatian Basketball Today

January 4, 2022 - Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and Chicago Bulls legend Toni Kukoč gives his take on the biggest problems in Croatian basketball today. 

Before filming the show 'U svom filmu', which will be shown on Croatian television on Tuesday, January 11, legendary Croatian basketball player Toni Kukoč interviewed with HTV's Dnevnik.

The three-time NBA champion spoke about the current status of the Croatia national basketball team.

"It's not an easy question. I've been saying a lot lately that our biggest problem is our best players can't play for the national team. They are maximally exhausted from numerous obligations in the NBA league even when they come. We need to find some formula for the best players to play for their national teams to qualify for the World and European Championships and the Olympic Games. Until that happens, we will have problems. We have quality players, but our five, six best players play in the NBA league. That is our biggest problem. If we played in a full squad and had some continuity, I don't see that we would have any problems qualifying for the big competitions."

What can be done to change that?

"In my opinion, this is the biggest problem. We have good players who play significant roles in their teams in the NBA year after year, but we can’t put them together and find some continuity of work here. It is known that national teams that have success in championships and the Olympic Games have a certain amount of real preparation. It used to be three or four months, now it's hard to expect, but you have to find a month before the championship to do something significant. People can’t get together three days before a tournament and have some results made. This may have been possible before, when you had three, four, or five players who played for the same team, so they knew each other well and knew how and what to do together, and now there are players who play completely different schemes in different teams, and to expect them to be brought to the national team and to click in three days is hard to expect. It is difficult and ungrateful to expect that basketball players can do something like that."

How do you see the performances of Bojan Bogdanović and Ivica Zubac in the NBA?

"They play great; they have continuity, Utah is third in the West, Zubac also plays great for the Clippers. Bojan is one of the most experienced NBA players, we know what he can give, and he gives it from game to game."

What does he think of the NBA league then and now?

"It's different; there's a lot more shooting now than in our time. However, when you talk to the generations from 50 years ago, they think that they played the best basketball, every generation thinks that they played the best basketball." 

You can see the interview HERE.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Bojan Bogdanović Contributes to Utah Jazz NBA 3-Pointer Record, Zubac Secures Clippers Win

December 9, 2021 - Utah Jazz is the first team in NBA history to score 20 or more three-pointers in three consecutive games, and score 72 three-pointers in a three-game span, setting a new NBA 3-pointer record. 

Utah Jazz and LA Clippers registered new victories in the NBA, and Croatian basketball players Bojan Bogdanović and Ivica Zubac registered notable appearances for their teams. And new NBA records were broken, reports T.portal

Utah defeated Minnesota 136:104 away, with only a point advantage at halftime (60:59). But Minnesota was wholly outplayed by Utah as the game went on. In the third quarter, Utah was up by 13 points, and in the last quarter, up by 18, and scored 76 points in the second half.

Bojan Bogdanović was the second top scorer for Utah. Donovan Mitchell was the best (36 points, 14/23 field goals), while the Croatian basketball player scored 21 points in 28 minutes. He also had five rebounds and 8/14 field goals, and 4/9 three-pointers. He also hit one free throw.

Bogdanović praised Mitchell, who scored 30 or more points in four consecutive games.

"He's full of confidence. We all know how good he is and who he is. The game is at a very high level for the whole season," said Bogdanović.

Utah hit 25/54 for three-pointers, which placed them in the NBA history books.

"This was a good win for us. We played away, and we’re all trying to see where we are right now with a desire to keep growing. And tomorrow, we will have another big game," said Mitchell after the game.

 

This Utah Jazz team is thus the first in NBA history to score 20 or more three-pointers in three consecutive games, and the best Croatian basketball player, Bojan Bogdanović, significantly contributed to this record, currently averaging 16.8 points from three-pointers or 40.8% (throwing in 2.5 three-pointers on the average per game).

But that isn't the only record they set. 

Utah's 72 three-pointers are the most in a three-game span, breaking the old record of 67 set by Milwaukee and Houston (twice). 

The Clippers defeated Boston 114:111 in a tense game at home. A second and a half before the end, Croatian center Ivica Zubac hit both free throws to confirm the Clippers victory.

The Clippers were up 12 points at halftime, but Boston eventually caught up. Brandon Boston jr. scored 27 points for the Clippers, while Reggie Jackson added 17 with seven assists.

Zubac played 32 minutes and achieved a double-double of 10 points and ten rebounds. He also had four blocks and 3/4 field goals, with 4/4 from the free-throw line. He also had one assist, four turnovers and one steal. 

Jayson Tatum was the Celtics' first name with 29 points and ten rebounds.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Bojan Bogdanović Second Croat to Cross NBA 8,000-Point Mark!

November 14, 2021 - While his Utah Jazz couldn't pull out a win against the Miami Heat on Saturday night, Bojan Bogdanović had something to celebrate. He became only the second Croat to reach the NBA 8,000-point mark! 

Bojan Bogdanović played his best game of the season, scoring 26 points (field goals 8-19, three-pointers 6-13) with 6 rebounds and 3 assists, but the Utah Jazz failed to beat Miami (105:111). The Utah Jazz is currently in crisis, as they have only one win in their last five games. This was also their second home defeat in a row. Miami played without Butler but still celebrated on the wings of young defenders Herro (27 points) and Robinson (22), with Kyle Lowry scoring 21 points.

Bogdanović was the top scorer for the Jazz, ahead of Jordan Clarkson (25) and Donovan Mitchell (22). 

This is the fourth defeat in five games for Utah. On the other hand, Heat achieved the first victory from the fourth attempt on the current tour of the West. Both teams are now at 8-5.

But there is some good news to the story. Not only was this Bojan's best game this season, but the Croatian basketballer became only the second Croatian to cross the 8,000-point mark in the NBA.! 

In this game, Bogdanović needed 10 points to break the 8,000 mark in his career, and he crossed it in the last quarter, nailing 19 of his 26 points then. Of Croatian basketball players, only Toni Kukoč scored more (9810), and at this pace, Babo should overtake him next season.

Furthermore, the Los Angeles Clippers and Ivica Zubac continued with great games. On Saturday night, they defeated Minnesota 129:102, and the Croatian center completely outplayed Towns, who remained at only 8 points. Zubac scored 10 points but also 12 rebounds in 22 minutes on the court. Thus, the Clippers are currently experiencing an exciting winning streak.

Paul George with 23 points and Reggie Jackson with 21 led the Clippers to their eighth win in 12 games, and Anthony Edwards with 21 points was the Wolves' top scorer.

Source: Index.hr

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Zubac and Bogdanović Named in Sports Illustrated Top 100 NBA Players of 2022

September 21, 2021 - Ivica Zubac and Bojan Bogdanović have been named in the Sports Illustrated Top 100 NBA players of 2022. 

The American magazine ranks the top 100 NBA basketball players every year before the new season. The popular sports magazine started this year's countdown and published the list from 51st to 100th place, where the names of two Croatian basketballers were found. 

For the first time in his career, Ivica Zubac entered Sports Illustrated's Top 100, in 99th place.

"Outside of a three-point shot, Zubac checks every box necessary for a modern big. On offense, he's an expert offensive rebounder and a sturdy screener with soft hands as a roll man. On defense, he's smart as a rotating big and he won’t get bullied by the game’s biggest behemoths. Zubac is perhaps the least flashy player on our Top 100 list, but don’t let that detract from his value in Los Angeles," writes Michael Shapiro of the LA Clippers player. 

 

A year ago, after the best season of his career, Bojan Bogdanović was close to the top 50, in 56th place, but now he is ranked as 74th this season. 

In May of 2020, season-ending surgery on Bogdanovic’s right wrist knocked the veteran forward out for Utah’s bubble run, proving a major loss for the Jazz. Last season, Bogdanovic returned and further proved his worth, serving as both a reliable shooter and more-than-capable on-ball creator. Toward the end of the regular season when Donovan Mitchell went down with an ankle injury, Bogdanovic thrived, averaging 22.8 points over the regular season’s final 16 games," writes BP. 

 

The remaining two Croats in the NBA were not on the list. Dario Šarić will miss most, if not the entire Phoenix Suns season due to an operation, and Luka Šamanić has yet to confirm his place in the rotation of the San Antonio Spurs.

Among the players from the Sports Illustrated region, Serbian defender Bogdan Bogdanović was ranked 64th and Jusuf Nurkić, the center from BiH who plays for Portland 65th.

Luka Dončić and MVP Nikola Jokić will certainly be among the top 10, and whether SI placed them in the Top 5 and in which exact positions they see them, we will find out in a few days, reports Index.hr.

You can see the list so far HERE.

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Saturday, 3 July 2021

No Tokyo for Croatia after Losing to Germany in Olympic Qualifying Tournament Semifinal (86:76)

July 3, 2021 - Croatia nearly had the win to advance to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament final on Sunday, but Germany was better in the last 5 minutes to take the lead and ultimately the win (86:76). 

Croatia and Germany met in the semifinal of the Olympic basketball qualifying tournament at Spaladium Arena on Saturday. 

Croatia was unimpressive in their two group stage games, recording a tough defeat against Brazil (94:67) and a close victory over Tunisia (75:70).

Part of the reason for their poor performance can also be found in the stands. There were about 2,500 people at the first game, and barely 1,000 in the second. In an arena that holds 12,000, Croatia couldn't quite take advantage of playing at home. Today, however, Hajduk fan group Torcida came out to save Croatia basketball and called on all members to attend today's semifinal. 

Torcida has not organized their attendance at a Croatia basketball match for about 30 years.

Germany v. Croatia 

1st quarter

Hezonja scored Croatia's first basket for 3:2. Bogdanović made 1/2 free throws to make the score 5:3. Žižić scored both free throws awarded shortly after to even the score at 5:5. 

Ukić's floating jump shot saw Croatia down by 1 point - 8:7. A stellar Bogdanović dunk gave Croatia the lead for the first time at 8:9. With 4 minutes to go, Germany led 12:9. 

Bogdanović made it 15:12 with another 3-pointer. Bogdanović netted both free throws for 17:14 with 2 minutes to go. A 2pt driving layup by Bogdanović made it 17:16 and a foul drawn on him during the play saw him make a free throw to equal the score - 17:17.

Bogdanović put Croatia in the lead with another free throw for 17:18 and scored his second for +2. Sakić scored a 3pt jump shot for 17:22 Croatia! 

Sakić scored 1/2 free throws for 19:23 just before the final buzzer of the 1st quarter. 

2nd quarter

A Germany 3-pointer opened the 2nd quarter for 22:23, but Jordano quickly put Croatia back in a comfortable lead with a free throw for 22:26. 

Germany retook the lead thanks to a 3-pointer at 27:26. And it was 31:26 shortly after that. 

Planinić scored for 31:28 and a Bogdanović dunk made it 37:30. A 3-pointer from the Utah Jazz player made it 39:33. Hezonja made two free throws for 41:35 with 3 minutes to go. 

Hezonja scored a 3-pointer for 41:38 - and yet another for 43:41 with 2 minutes to go! Hezonja was on fire to level the score with two free throws - 43:43. Bogdanović put Croatia back in the lead with one minute to go at 43:45, which was the final score of the 2nd quarter! 

3rd quarter

Bogdanović scored the first basket of the 3rd quarter with 7:13 to go - 43:47. A Rogić 3-pointer saw Croatia up by 5 - 45:50. 

A Žižić layup made it 48:52 and a single Bogdanović free trow 48:53 with just under 5 minutes to go. Bogdanović scored for 50:55 and nailed a 3pt jump shot after. A Sakić layup made it 52:60 with two minutes to go. 

Croatia was only up by 5 with a minute to go - 56:60. Žižić scored 1/2 free throws for 56:61. Bogdanović scored two free throws to end the quarter 56:63! 

4th quarter

Hezonja scored a 2pt pullup jump shot for 58:65. Bogdanović continued his brilliant play with another 3-pointer for a +10 Croatia lead - 58:68. 

Jordano scored a 3-pointer for 63:71 with just over 7 minutes to go in the game. Bogdanović scored a 2pt floating jump shot for 67:73 and a free throw for 67:74. 

Germany was only behind by 3 with 5 minutes to go - 72:74.  Germany was awarded two free throws which they made to even the score with 4:30 to go. 

Germany took after making two free throws for 76:74. Bogdanović was awarded two free throws in the next play which made fo 76:76 with 3 minutes to go! 

Germany made two free throws for a +4 lead with 1:33 to go - 80:76. 

The game ended 86:76 for Germany.

Germany and Brazil will meet in the final on Sunday, July 4 at 7:30 pm. Only the winner of the tournament will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. 

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Sunday, 20 June 2021

Huge Boost for Croatia: Bojan Bogdanović in Split for Olympic Qualifiers!

June 20, 2021 - Croatia is thrilled to have Bojan Bogdanović in Split for the Olympic qualifiers at Spaladium Arena from June 29 to July 4! 

Croatia basketball player and NBA star for the Utah Jazz Bojan Bogdanović confirmed in an interview for US media that he would play for the national team in the Olympic qualifying tournament, which is being held in Split. Bogdanović and Utah were relegated from the NBA playoffs after a series against the LA Clippers, reports HRT.

"I will play for the national team, so I will already be in full training in seven or eight days," said Bogdanović.

After two defeats in friendly matches against Slovenia, Croatia's next game in preparation for the Olympic qualifiers will be against Puerto Rico on June 23 at the Spaladium Arena, where the tournament will be held for a spot in Tokyo. Veljko Mršić's team will compete against the same national team one day later, on Thursday, June 24.

The tournament for Tokyo is played from June 29 to July 4.

Croatia, Tunisia, and Brazil will meet in the group stage of the qualifying tournament in Split in June. Croatia will play against Brazil on June 30 at 8 pm and the next day against Tunisia at the same time. Brazil and Tunisia will play on June 29, also from 8 pm. After the group stage, there is a day of rest, and on July 3, the semifinal matches are scheduled. The final match is scheduled for July 4 at 7:30 pm. Only the winner of the tournament will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

Croatia's group crosses over with Germany, Russia, and Mexico. The Split tournament and the other three hosted by Belgrade, Kaunas, and Victoria in Canada are scheduled from June 29 to July 4, 2021. 

The competition format has changed in Tokyo. Instead of how it was previously held, in which 12 national teams were divided into two groups of six, and the four best from the group stage continued to compete in the quarterfinals by knockout, the new system divides the teams into three groups of four.

The first two national teams from each of the three groups will advance to the quarterfinals and join the two best of the three third-placed teams. With this system, each match of the group stage becomes even more important, and to win an Olympic medal, it is now necessary to play six instead of the previous eight matches.

The Olympic qualifying tournament at the Spaladium Arena will also be held in front of spectators, reported Slobodna Dalmacija last week. 

At the request of the Croatian Basketball Federation and with the support of the Chief of the Split Civil Protection Headquarters, Bojan Ivošević, consent for the presence of fans in compliance with epidemiological measures was given by the County Civil Protection Headquarters.

Physical distance must be implemented, i.e., a distance of at least two meters must be maintained, and the spectators, technical and organizational staff present must meet one of the following conditions: that they received the second dose of vaccine more than 14 days ago, that they overcame COVID-19 in the last 180 days, that they had recovered from COVID-19 and were vaccinated with a single dose, or that they had been negative on a PCR test, no older than 72 hours, or tested negative in the past 48 hours on a rapid antigen test.

The organizer, the Croatian Basketball Federation, is responsible for controlling the measures and conditions.

The Croatia national team will thus get the desired support from the stands, which could ultimately be its advantage for a spot in Tokyo.

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Saturday, 8 May 2021

Best Game Ever for Bojan Bogdanović with 48 Points in Utah's Victory!

May 8, 2021 - It was the best game ever for Bojan Bogdanović, who scored 48 points against Denver on Friday night!

Jutarnji List reports that Bojan Bogdanović played the best game of his career last night. In Utah's victory against Denver (127:120), the Croatian basketball player scored 48 points (career record), and with a phenomenal 70% shooting percentage, he scored 16 out of 23 attempts. Bojan also hit 8 of 11 three-pointers and all eight free throws.

In addition, he had 8 rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Bogdanović's performance carries additional weight because, thanks to him, Utah has remained the leading team in the West and is now in a great spot for the playoffs.

Bojan overshadowed Nikola Jokić, convincingly the first candidate for MVP of the player of the season. The Serbian center also had a great evening, scoring 24 points, to which he added 13 assists and 9 rebounds. But all that was not enough to surpass Bogdanović.

Bojan has been playing the best basketball of his career in recent weeks. He has scored at least 22 points in his last five games, with a shooting percentage above 54 percent. The average in those five games is a fantastic 30.6 points, and he hit 54 of 86 attempts, which is a phenomenal 63 percent.

Utah has been playing without its best player Donovan Mitchell for some time, and Bojan's role in the team has changed with his position. The more he is with the ball, the more he gets under the basket, which obviously suits him better than the role of a classic shooter.

In the victory against Denver, Bogdanović had the best teammates in Clarkson (21 points), Gobert (14), and Niang (13).

Phoenix was also successful, beating New York 128:105. The Suns were led by Ayton with 26 points and 15 rebounds, while Dario Saric had another miserable evening. He only played five minutes in which he only managed to shoot once. 

The Lakers stumbled once again, this time in Portland (106:101), with whom they now share sixth place in the West. Seventh leads to the play-in, and the Lakers look awful.

Results:Philadelphia - New Orleans 109: 107, Chicago - Boston 121: 99, Charlotte - Orlando 122: 112, Miami - Minnesota 121: 112, Milwaukee - Houston 141: 133, Dallas - Cleveland 110: 90, Portland - LA Lakers 106: 101, Sacramento - San Antonio 104: 113, Utah - Denver 127: 120, Phoenix - New York 128: 105.

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