El Dorado News-Times
Jokic, Porter, Murray power Nuggets to win over Nets
NEW YORK (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 22 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists in his 28th triple-double of the season, Michael Porter Jr. had 28 points and nine rebounds, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Brooklyn Nets 108-102 on Sunday.
Jamal Murray scored 20 of his 25 points in the first quarter for the Nuggets, who looked nothing like the slumping team that had dropped five of six. Denver shot 62.5% in the first half and led comfortably most of the game while playing for the second straight afternoon.
“Obviously we were 1-5 in our last six, not playing up to our abilities, so just to get the win is the thing I'm most proud of,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
He was disappointed that the Nuggets let a 20-point lead after three quarters get cut to 100-93 with 3:44 to play. Porter answered with one of his five 3-pointers, and the Nuggets got the lead back up to 14 before the Nets had a couple more late baskets.
Mikal Bridges scored 23 points and Nic Claxton had 19 for the Nets, who have lost three straight as they try to hold onto a top-six seed and a guaranteed postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.
They pulled out a 122-120 victory in Denver a week earlier, but the Western Conference leaders made sure there would be no repeat.
Murray knocked down consecutive 3-pointers to finish a 10-0 run that pushed a threepoint lead to 25-12 and his final basket of the first quarter made it 33-21. He was 4 for 4 behind the arc in the period.
The Nets had a good burst to trim it to 42-38 in the second, but Jokic followed with two straight baskets, Porter and Murray combined for Denver's final 12 points and it was 63-48 at the break.
“Came out strong, came out aggressively and we did a good job for the most part of holding the lead and just keeping them at bay,” Murray said.
The Nets got the deficit down to 12 late in the third quarter before Jokic powered his way to the final eight points of the period, making it 91-71.
The lead reached 98-76 before the Nets stormed back with a 17-2 spurt, and they could have gotten even closer before some late missed jumpers.
THUNDER 124, SUNS 120
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The M-V-P chants rained down on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as he hit two critical free throws with 10 seconds remaining to help the Oklahoma City Thunder hold off the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
The All-Star scored 40 points in Oklahoma City's 124-120 victory.
The Thunder have won four of five as they push for at least a play-in spot. Oklahoma City has missed the playoffs the past two years, but a postseason slot is within reach. The players said the crowd at the Paycom Center shared their sense of urgency.
“We had a home-court advantage for sure,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “They were energetic. They were their usual selves. It was a big game tonight, and it felt like it.”
Gilgeous-Alexander made 12 of 24 field goals and 16 of 19 free throws. He made all 11 of his free throws in the second half after not shooting any in the second quarter.
“I just thought he didn't have his normal jugular-type mentality on his drives (in the second quarter)," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. "And he got back to that in the second half and really put pressure on them. That gets the fouls going.”
Luguentz Dort added 20 points for the Thunder, who trailed by 15 in the first half.
“The key to that type of win is just staying alive long enough for when the game turns,” Daigneault said.
Devin Booker scored 46 points and Chris Paul added 14 points and 13 assists for the Suns.
Phoenix led 69-57 at halftime behind 16 points from Booker. The Suns shot 52.2% from the field before the break. Gilgeous-Alexander had 21 points in the first half to keep the Thunder in it.
Gilgeous-Alexander stole the ball in the closing seconds of the third quarter and scored a layup while being fouled with 0.4 seconds remaining. He made the free throw to cut Phoenix's lead to 96-90 at the end of the period.
SPURS 126, HAWKS 118
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell had 29 points each and San Antonio rallied from a 24-point deficit to spoil Dejounte Murray's homecoming.
Murray had 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds in his first game in San Antonio since being traded to Atlanta in the offseason.
Zach Collins added 19 points for the Spurs, who snapped a two-game skid.
Onyeka Okongwu had 17 points and Clint Capela had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks.