NBA regular season

Ex-MVP Nikola Jokic tallies big 35-17-12 line as Nuggets escape upset-minded Raptors


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Ex-MVP Nikola Jokic tallies big 35-17-12 line as Nuggets escape upset-minded Raptors

SWARMED. Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) controls the ball as Toronto Raptors forward Bruce Brown (11) and center Jontay Porter (34) and forward Kelly Olynyk (41) as guard Gradey Dick (1) and guard Reggie Jackson (7) look on in the second quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Former MVP Nikola Jokic goes to work and ends up with his 126th career triple-double in the Denver Nuggets' escape of a Toronto Raptors side playing without 5 key players

Nikola Jokic had 35 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists, Jamal Murray added 26 points and 12 assists, and the host Denver Nuggets rallied from a 22-point deficit to beat the short-handed Toronto Raptors 125-119 on Monday night (Tuesday, March 12, Manila time).

Jokic has 21 triple-doubles this season and 126 in his career.

Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. scored 19 points each for Denver, which has won nine of 10.

Toronto was already without Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl due to hand injuries and then ruled out Immanuel Quickley (hip flexor), Gary Trent Jr. (groin strain) and Chris Boucher (knee).

That gave little-used Javon Freeman-Liberty, Jontay Porter and Ochai Agbaji meaningful playing time for the Raptors on Monday.

Jontay Porter, Michael Porter Jr.’s younger brother, scored a career-high 14 points off the bench.

RJ Barrett finished with 26 points, Kelly Olynyk added 24 points, Gradey Dick scored 17 points, Bruce Brown had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Jalen McDaniels contributed 12 points for Toronto, which has lost six of its last seven.

The young Raptors took advantage of their opportunity and stunned Denver in the first half. Toronto led by two at the end of the first quarter and scored the first 11 points of the second to lead 45-32.

Jordan Nwora hit a 3-pointer to make it 56-38 with 5:55 left in the half, and the lead swelled to 22 twice, the last time on Dick’s pull-up jumper 2:22 before intermission.

The Nuggets closed the game to 68-51 at halftime on Murray’s 3-pointer.

Jokic hit a 3-pointer to open the second-half scoring but the Raptors quickly got the lead to 85-64 on Olynyk’s three-point play with 7:37 left in the third.

The Nuggets got rolling from there, ending the period on a 16-5 run to get within 98-93 heading into the fourth quarter.

Denver cut it to 103-102 on a Murray layup with 8:58 left then, after the teams traded baskets, Murray’s floater sparked an 8-0 run that gave the Nuggets a 112-107 lead with 5:35 remaining.

Barrett’s floater cut it to 121-119 with 1:23 left but Michael Porter Jr. hit a 3-pointer and Denver closed it out. –

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