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Nikola Jokic lifts Nuggets past Thunder as Denver gains inside track on second seed in West

Harrison Wind Avatar
February 27, 2019

The Nuggets have the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference in their sights.

Behind 36 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists from Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets held off a furious fourth-quarter rally from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George to win 121-112 in front of a sold-out crowd and a nationally televised audience.

Denver led by 13 at the beginning of the fourth, but George, who finished with 25 points, 19 of which came in the second half, led Oklahoma City back to tie the score with 6:49 remaining in the fourth. Behind Jokic, the Nuggets held the Thunder off down the stretch to secure their 42nd win of the season. With the win, Denver moves four games ahead of Oklahoma City for the second seed in the West. The Nuggets have also clinched the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Thunder.

Elsewhere for Denver, Paul Millsap finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also made countless big-time defensive plays in the second half for the Nuggets. Jamal Murray added 20 points and hit four 3s. Will Barton added 23 points in his best game back from injury.

The Thunder punched first, opening up a quick 13-8 advantage. But the Nuggets battled back to take a three-point lead after one quarter of play. Behind a Jokic three to end the second quarter, Denver opened up a 64-51 advantage. The Nuggets maintained a double-digit lead until the end of the third, when Paul George hit a half-court buzzer-beater to trim Denver’s lead to 13. From there, the Thunder continued to chip into the Nuggets’ advantage.

Early fourth-quarter offsetting technicals handed out to Gary Harris and Nerlens Noel after a hard after-the-whistle foul on Denver’s shooting guard gave even more juice to an already thrilling game. Then Oklahoma City trimmed Denver’s lead to single digits behind a strong second-half performance from Paul George. Before long, the Nuggets were clinging to a 97-94 lead midway through the fourth. A Dennis Schroder three with under seven minutes to go tied the score at 97.

Denver clung to a three-point lead until a Murray three put Denver up six with around two minutes remaining. The two teams traded baskets down the stretch until Jokic finished the Thunder off at the foul line.

The Nuggets have won 20 of their last 21 at home.

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