DENVER (AP) — Will Barton scored a season-high 30 points, helping to make up for the absence of suspended star Nikola Jokic as the Denver Nuggets hung on to beat the Indiana Pacers 101-98 Wednesday night.
Zeke Nnaji added 19 points and Jeff Green and Bones Hyland had 12 apiece for the Nuggets, who have won four straight and six of seven.
Malcolm Brogdon had 25 points to lead the Pacers. Domantas Sabonis added 20 points and 19 rebounds.
Jokic, the reigning NBA MVP, served a one-game suspension for his retaliatory late-game shove Monday of Markieff Morris following the Miami player’s hard foul to Jokic’s midsection. Both players were ejected and Morris, who was knocked to the floor, drew a $50,000 fine for his role in the fracas.
The Nuggets took a 69-65 lead into the fourth quarter and the game remained close through the final period. In one sequence, Barton and Brogdon each hit back-to-back 3-pointers as Denver led 85-84 with 6:02 remaining. Just over a minute later, Barton connected on his third 3-pointer in the fourth quarter as the Nuggets moved in front 90-86.
Indiana remained within striking distance until the end. Green broke free for a dunk with 12.6 seconds left but Brogdon put in a running layup and the Pacers immediately fouled Hyland, who made one of two free throws with six seconds left. Jeremy Lamb’s long 3-point attempt at the buzzer hit the backboard and bounced away.
Monte Morris hit a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left in the second quarter, pulling the Nuggets into a 44-all tie with the Pacers at halftime. Indiana had used a 10-0 run to grab its first lead earlier in the period.
Pacers: G/F Caris LeVert was held out because of lower back soreness. “He went through shootaround and just felt that he wasn’t quite right to play tonight,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “There wasn’t an incident that caused a re-injury. He just had some stiffness. It’s unfortunate for us but the health of our players is the No. 1 thing.” LeVert missed the first four games of the season because of a stress fracture in his back. … Brogdon was back in the lineup after missing the previous two games due to a non-COVID-19-related illness.
Nuggets: G/F Michael Porter Jr. missed a second consecutive game because of pain in his lower back. The Nuggets have yet to indicate a timetable for his return.
Pacers: Wrap up a four-game trip by completing a back-to-back set Thursday night at Utah.