MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 28 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists and scored Denver’s final five points to help the Nuggets hold off the Memphis Grizzlies 103-102 on Friday night.
Memphis had a chance to take the lead with about three seconds remaining when guard Ja Morant went to the rim against Jokic but came up short against the Denver center. The Nuggets then ran out the clock for their fifth straight victory.
Will Barton and Michael Porter Jr. had 21 points each for Denver. Jamal Murray was held to a season-low three points, missing 13 of 14 shots.
Brandon Clarke and Dillon Brooks led Memphis with 20 points each. Morant had 16 points — on 5-of-16 shooting — and nine assists, and Jonas Valanciunas added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Playing its first game after the All-Star break, Denver used a strong defensive effort in the third quarter to force poor Memphis shooting and sloppy ballhandling. The combination led to the Nuggets outscoring Memphis 28-22 in the third, including a 20-7 run that led to Denver’s first double-digit lead and eventually an 81-77 advantage.
The Nuggets entered the game 14-2 when leading after three quarters this season and still held the advantage midway through the fourth until Memphis began connecting on 3-pointers.
It was tied at 95 before a 3-pointer by Barton with 2:08 left and Denver never trailed again.
Nuggets: Ended a five-game trip (split by All-Star break) 5-0. …F JaMychal Green, who was listed as questionable with a left shoulder sprain, was a late scratch with a stomach illness. …Murray reached 1,250 career assists in the second quarter. …Jokic went down holding his ankle in the third quarter, causing some concern as he left the game. After treatment on the sideline, he returned a minute later.
Grizzlies: Jonas Valanciunas passed Hakim Warrick for 14th on the Grizzlies career rebounding list. Warrick had 1,326. …G Grayson Allen returned to active roster after missing four game under concussion protocol. … Morant’s 42-footer to end the third quarter pulled the Grizzlies to 81-77.