Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic‘s first two matchups against his former teammate Jusuf Nurkic didn’t go exactly to plan.

Last season’s March 28 loss in Portland was perhaps the toughest defeat of the Nuggets’ 2016-17 campaign. Nurkic played the best game of his career and laid 33 points and 15 rebounds on Denver. The Trail Blazers took a one-game lead for the eighth seed in the Western Conference and never looked back. Jokic posted 17 points and eight rebounds but was outmatched by his one-time frontcourt partner.

This season’s late-November matchup — the first of four meetings between the two teams this season — followed a similar script. Denver lost by 17, Jokic struggled, scored just six points and could never assert himself on offense against the Blazers’ front line.

But something was different about Jokic-Nurkic III Friday night at Moda Center — an arena where Denver hadn’t seen its name on the winning side of the scoreboard since 2013 when Anthony Randolph was still a key rotation piece off the bench for the Nuggets.

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Harrison Wind

Harrison Wind is the Denver Nuggets beat reporter for DNVR Nuggets. The University of Colorado alum grew up in Boulder and has covered the Nuggets for the last three seasons. You can hear him every weekday on the DNVR Nuggets podcast. Follow Harrison on Twitter - @HarrisonWind