NBA regular season

Nuggets stave off Jazz behind Nikola Jokic’s triple-double

Nuggets stave off Jazz behind Nikola Jokic’s triple-double

MVP. Nuggets center Nikola Jokic drives against Jazz center Walker Kessler.

Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Nuggets outlast a Jazz side still showing a lot of fight despite missing Jordan Clarkson and other rotation players

Nikola Jokic had 31 points, 14 assists, and 12 rebounds, Jamal Murray scored 30 points, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the shorthanded Utah Jazz, 115-110, on Saturday night, December 10 (Sunday, December 11, Manila time).

Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished with 15 points each, and Bones Hyland scored 11 for the Nuggets.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 27 points, Talen Horton-Tucker and Malik Beasley had 19 points each, Kelly Olynyk finished with 18 points and Walker Kessler had 10 for the Jazz.

Utah was without Mike Conley (left leg), Lauri Markkanen (illness), Simone Fontecchio (left ankle sprain), and Jordan Clarkson was scratched from the lineup with a right hip contusion.

Despite the shortened bench, the Jazz stayed close in the first half. They were within one on Olynyk’s layup with 2:13 left in the second quarter but the Nuggets closed out the half on a 10-2 run to lead 61-52 at intermission.

The Nuggets were up 70-60 on Murray’s fadeaway jumper early in the third but Utah responded. Alexander-Walker had a three-point play, Beasley drained one from behind the arc and then scored on a finger roll to make it a two-point game.

Denver stretched the lead to six but the Jazz rallied and took their first lead, 81-80, on Beasley’s three-pointer with 3:37 left in the third quarter. The Nuggets took a 92-90 lead into the fourth.

Utah came out strong in the final period, going ahead 99-95 on Alexander-Walker’s pull-up jumper. Hyland hit another three and then fed DeAndre Jordan for an alley-oop to put Denver back in front.

Horton-Tucker scored the next 5 points for the Jazz to give them a two-point lead but the Nuggets responded. Jokic scored on a putback, Jokic made 3 free throws and Gordon split a pair to make it 110-105.

Alexander-Walker hit a triple and Jerrod Vanderbilt dunked off a turnover to tie it. Jokic fed Bruce Brown for a dunk with 1:19 left, Horton-Tucker missed two shots in the final minute and Jokic split a pair of free throws to make it 113-110 with 9.6 seconds left.

Alexander-Walker missed a 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left. –

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