NBA regular season

First in West: Jokic posts 25th triple-double in big Nuggets win


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First in West: Jokic posts 25th triple-double in big Nuggets win

ALL-AROUND. Nuggets center Nikola Jokic dribbles the ball while being guarded by Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter.

Michael Ciaglo/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets wrest the top spot in the Western Conference heading into the final stretch of the regular season

Nikola Jokic posted his 25th triple-double of the season to help lead the Denver Nuggets to a 142-110 win over the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, April 6 (Sunday, April 7, Manila time).

Jokic finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a game-high 24 points, and Michael Porter Jr. added 20 for the Nuggets (54-24), who have won three of their last four and moved a half-game ahead of the second-place Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference.

Reggie Jackson scored 18 off the bench, Jamal Murray had 16, and Peyton Watson added 13 for Denver.

Clint Capela led the Hawks (36-42) with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while De’Andre Hunter and Bogdan Bogdanovic each scored 18. 

Jalen Johnson tallied 17 points for Atlanta, which dropped its second straight and holds the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. Dejounte Murray scored 14, while Garrison Mathews finished with 11.

The Nuggets used a 13-5 run to pull away, taking a 93-76 lead on Christian Braun’s three-pointer at the 5:55 mark of the third.

With Denver still leading 101-84 late in the quarter, a 9-0 Nuggets run was stamped with back-to-back buckets from Jackson to take a commanding 110-84 lead.

Denver outscored Atlanta 31-24 in the final quarter, and Hunter Tyson’s layup tied the Nuggets’ highest-scoring game of the season.

Denver shot 53-for-88 (60.2%) from the field and 23-for-41 (56.1%) on three-point attempts, while Atlanta was 37-for-87 (42.5%) from the field and 12-for-37 (32.4 %) from beyond the arc.

In the first quarter, Murray’s triple gave Atlanta the first lead of the game 16 seconds in. Denver then answered with a 28-15 run, stamped with a pair of free throws by Jokic with 2:47 left.

Bruno Fernando’s bucket trimmed the Hawks’ deficit to 31-26, before Watson’s tip-in layup with a second left in the first quarter.

Denver opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run, extending its lead to 41-26 on Jackson’s layup with 9:11 remaining in the half.

After trailing by as many as 16, Atlanta cut the Nuggets’ lead in half when Dejounte Murray’s three-pointer trimmed Denver’s advantage to 61-53 at the 2:32 mark. Caldwell-Pope’s triple gave Denver a 69-56 halftime lead.

Caldwell-Pope’s 13 points led the Nuggets’ first-half scoring, while Hunter paced the Hawks with 12 in the opening half. 

The Hawks were able to trim Denver’s lead down to nine with 8:40 left in the third quarter, when Murray’s triple cut their deficit to 80-71. –

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