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Home Sports Nuggets Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray lead Denver’s comeback win over Raptors

Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray lead Denver’s comeback win over Raptors


As long as you’ve got the MVP, the game’s never over.

Down eight for most of the fourth quarter, the Nuggets got timely stops, clutch buckets and survived a feisty Raptors squad for a gripping, 118-113, win. Naturally, Nikola Jokic was instrumental in the comeback.

Jokic flirted with another triple-double, finishing with 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, and the Nuggets benefitted from a timely challenge call after Jokic was whistled for a defensive foul late.

Incredulous at the whistle, Raptors forward Scottie Barnes was ejected late. Despite a lackadaisical effort for most of the night, the Nuggets outscored the Raptors 35-25 in the fourth quarter for their fourth consecutive win.

“I believe we still have the No. 1 clutch defense in the NBA,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, who was most pleased with his team’s ability to clean the glass in the fourth quarter. “Tonight was another example of our defense stepping up.”

Winners in eight of their last nine, Denver improved to 46-19 on the year and 30-4 at home.

Jamal Murray registered a team-high 24 points, including 18 in the second half. He also drilled five 3-pointers to move within one of tying Denver’s all-time franchise record. Murray said he was well aware of the record but defended his shot selection nonetheless.

“I was aware,” he joked, cutting off a postgame question.

Michael Porter Jr. logged 20 points with four 3-pointers, and Aaron Gordon dumped in 19.

Murray opened the third quarter with bad intentions. He worked his way inside out, getting started with a jumper and then a reverse layup before extending his comfort zone to the 3-point line. From there they started falling, too, as Murray appeared to be eyeing the franchise’s record for most 3-pointers made all time. He ended the quarter with 12 points alone and sat just two 3-pointers behind Will Barton, now a Raptor, for the record of 804.

Denver’s second unit struggled to find much cohesion once the starters exited. Between Bruce Brown and Reggie Jackson, both searched all over the court for their rhythm. It took until the fourth, but Jackson eventually found his. If there was a mission before the postseason arrived, it should be to establish some semblance of identity off the bench. Until that happens, Denver might be more vulnerable than they’d care to admit. Still, after Murray’s torrid run, the Nuggets entered the fourth down just 88-83.

With only 18 games left in the regular season heading into Monday night, Malone said his goal was both to ensure his team’s health as well as maintain momentum. Within that, though, Malone allowed there was still room for growth.

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