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Nikola Jokic collected 33 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 assists, Michael Porter Jr. scored 24 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Dallas Mavericks, 125-114, in the in-season tournament opener for both teams.
Jamal Murray logged 18 points and 13 assists and Aaron Gordon also scored 18 points for Denver.
Luka Doncic had 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists for Dallas, which was without head coach Jason Kidd, who didn’t make the trip due to a non-COVID illness.
Kyrie Irving scored 22 points in his return to the Dallas lineup after missing a couple of games due to a foot sprain, while Grant Williams and Josh Green contributed 13 points each.
Assistant Sean Sweeney served as the acting Dallas head coach.
Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber was inactive due to a dislocated right toe sustained in the team’s Wednesday win over the Chicago Bulls.
Both teams will host the Los Angeles Clippers in their next West Group B action, with the Mavericks facing them on November 10 while Denver plays Los Angeles on November 14.
Jokic had 20 points in the first half and capped it by hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give Denver a 70-55 lead at the break. The Nuggets led by as many as 16 in the first half and were on top for the final 45 minutes of the game.
Dallas, trailing 93-73 late in the third, went on a run to cut the gap. Green hit a pair of three-pointers, Dwight Powell dunked, Jaden Hardy hit a trey and Doncic split a pair of free throws to make it 99-87.
Porter drained his fourth triple at the quarter buzzer to give the Nuggets a 15-point lead heading into the fourth.
After Irving’s finger roll and a three-point play by Doncic to open the fourth made it 102-92, Denver soon responded with 5 straight points from Christian Braun to go ahead by 14, but the Mavericks made another push.
Doncic hit two three-pointers, fed Irving for another, and Irving hit a technical free throw to make it an eight-point game, but the Nuggets closed it out.