Sports Jokic scores 31 points; Nuggets beat Timberwolves 114-103
Denver moves into 3rd in West with 110-104 win over Clippers
LOS ANGELES — Denver is missing some key pieces to its backcourt. As long as the Nuggets have Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr., they remain one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Jokic had 30 points and 14 rebounds, Porter scored 25 points and Denver extended its winning streak to five games with a 110-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night to move into the third seed in the West. “We are winning games. TheJokic had 30 points and 14 rebounds, Porter scored 25 points and Denver extended its winning streak to five games with a 110-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night to move into the third seed in the West.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nikola Jokic scored 16 of his 31 points in the first quarter as the Denver Nuggets took control and the playoff-bound Nuggets held off a second-half rally in a 114-103 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
JaVale McGee had 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Vlatko Cancar scored a career-high 14 points off the bench for Denver. The Nuggets rested Michael Porter Jr. after clinching home-court advantage in the first round with their 117-112 victory at Charlotte in their previous game.
Denver sits No. 4 in the Western Conference, a game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for third.
Nets rally to beat Nuggets 125-119, snap 4-game skid
DENVER — Kevin Durant scored 33 points, including five free throws over the last 21 seconds, and Kyrie Irving added 31 as the Brooklyn Nets snapped a four-game skid by storming back to beat the short-handed Denver Nuggets 125-119 on Saturday night. The Nets moved a half-game in front of Milwaukee for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn remained three games behind East-leading Philadelphia. After trailing by as many as 21 points in the first half, the Nets took the lead for good at 111-110 on a 3-pointer by Joe Harris with 6:12 remaining. It was their first lead since 35 seconds into the game. But it was far from easy down the stretch.
“I think we can go with a lot of different options,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said of Jokic and McGee starting together for the first time. “As we approach the playoffs with now two games to go, we can try some more different things.”
Anthony Edwards scored 18 of his 29 points in the third as Minnesota made its run. Karl-Anthony Towns added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and D’Angelo Russell had 17 points.
“I think they just went big and put pressure on us,” Towns said. “They had the size advantage and it hurt us.”
Denver used its size with Jokic and McGee to assume a 13-point lead in the first half. The Nuggets scored their first 20 points in the paint, a streak snapped by an Aaron Gordon 3-pointer. They finished with 60 points inside the paint for the game.
Nuggets roar into playoffs after losing star Jamal Murray
DENVER (AP) — Michael Porter Jr.'s breakout season lightened the load for Nikola Jokic during his MVP-worthy season and soothed the sting of Jamal Murray's season-ending knee injury. So, Facundo Campazzo only meant to dish out some praise to his Denver teammate when asked about him recently. “He's a terrible terrible?" the 30-year-old rookie Argentinian guard stammered as he fumbled for the right words in English. “Terrible is good, right?” No, responded a public relations employee off to the side of Campazzo's postgame Zoom interview. “The opposite of terrible!” Campazzo hurriedly corrected through an embarrassed laugh.
Jokic was doing much of the offensive work. He had 12 of Denver’s first 14 points. Together, Jokic and McGee combined for 27 rebounds and the Nuggets held a 53-43 rebounding advantage.
“I definitely think this could be a lineup in the future, especially with teams that play two bigs,” McGee said. “I definitely feel like it gives Joke definitely some time off his legs on the defensive end. ... He doesn't have to worry about it. He can just do what he does on offense."
Nuggets: Monte Morris was held out for injury management. He made his return on Tuesday after missing 12 games with a right hamstring strain. … Malone said he doesn’t expect Will Barton (right hamstring strain) or PJ Dozier (right adductor strain) to return before the end of the season. Malone said Barton, who missed his 11th straight game, is closer to a return than Dozier. Dozier has missed the past five games. … Denver has beaten Minnesota in 11 straight matchups.
Aaron Gordon pauses Dame Time, helps Denver Nuggets get even with Portland Trail Blazers
Aaron Gordon's stifling defense stops Damian Lillard's 3-point barrage in second half as the Denver Nuggets even series with Portland Trail Blazers.It was mainly because of Gordon’s work on the defensive end on Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who scored 32 of his 42 points in the first half. His first-half scoring barrage included eight 3-pointers, tying an NBA playoff record for most in a half.
Timberwolves: Edwards passed Christian Laettner for the most games of 20-plus points in a rookie season in franchise history. Edwards has 34 such games this season. … Edwards’ 18 points in the third tied his season-high for a quarter. … Towns had his 32nd double-double of the season and extended his club record for consecutive games with a 3 to 83 straight games.
Prior to the game, Malone said Porter Jr. should be in the conversation for the league’s comeback player of the year award. Malone also withheld any self-promotion for coach of the year honors but noted that the Nuggets get overlooked for the league’s awards.
“Listen, Nikola doesn’t get respect,” Malone said. “The Nuggets don’t get respect. I don’t get respect. Who cares? All I care about is us staying together, us finding ways to win, and continuing to prove people wrong, which I think we’ve done a great job of. I don’t know if there’s been a more resilient team in the last few years.”
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has reached agreement on his $1.5 billion sale of the club to e-commerce mogul Marc Lore and former baseball star Alex Rodriguez, aon Thursday.
“Those guys have been around,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said before the game. “We saw Marc in Sacramento. We saw Alex in Miami. It’s been great to see them around. It’s been great to begin to incorporate them into what we’re doing. I know that they’re pretty excited about what they’ve seen so far. But, again, the work is the work and we have to all do it.”
Nuggets: Finish a back-to-back on Friday in Detroit before ending the season at Portland.
Timberwolves: Host Boston on Saturday and Dallas on Sunday to end their season.
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Brian Hall, The Associated Press
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