NBA regular season

No MVP clash: Jokic feasts in Nuggets win as Embiid sits for Sixers

No MVP clash: Jokic feasts in Nuggets win as Embiid sits for Sixers

ON HIS OWN. Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) throws in the ball as head coach Michael Malone gestures to guard Jamal Murray (27) in the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

2-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic has his way in the Denver Nuggets' tight win over a Philadelphia 76ers' side that opted to sit out MVP candidate Joel Embiid

Nikola Jokic had 25 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists for his 29th triple-double of the season, leading the host Denver Nuggets to a 116-111 victory over the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night (Tuesday, March 28, Manila time).

Jamal Murray added 19 points, Bruce Brown scored 18, Michael Porter Jr. supplied 15 and Aaron Gordon 12 for Denver (51-24). The Nuggets have won four straight.

Tyrese Maxey scored 29 points, Paul Reed and Tobias Harris had 16 points apiece and Jalen McDaniels finished with 14 for Philadelphia (49-26). Joel Embiid (calf) and James Harden (Achilles) didn’t play for the Sixers, who have lost three straight but nearly rallied to win it late in the game.

Denver led by as much as 11 in the first quarter, but Maxey got hot in the second. He shot 8-for-11, made a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 20 points in the period. He sank two layups late to help the Sixers get within 61-57 at halftime.

Philadelphia opened the third quarter with a basket, but the Nuggets subsequently started to take control. Jokic scored 12 points and Gordon had six during a 22-2 run that put Denver ahead 83-61.

Reed heated up late in the period with eight points in less than two minutes to get the Sixers back within 16, and they were within 91-77 heading into the fourth.

The Nuggets’ bench came alive at the start of the final period to expand the lead. Brown scored four points, Zeke Nnaji had a dunk on a feed from Murray and Christian Braun had a follow-up dunk and corner 3-pointer to force a Philadelphia timeout.

The lead was 20 after another dunk by Nnaji, but the Sixers’ bench mounted a late rally. Philadelphia went on a 16-2 run to get within 112-107 with 1:23 left. Jeff Green’s dunk made it a seven-point game, but a layup by Furkan Korkmaz and a dunk from Montrezl Harrell made it 114-111 with 28.9 seconds left.

Green hit two free throws with 13.3 seconds left to seal it. –

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