Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic pumped in 30 points apiece to carry the Denver Nuggets as they broke a two-game losing streak by defeating the host Charlotte Hornets 117-112 on Tuesday night.
Aaron Gordon provided 17 points as Denver (45-24) continued pursuit of rising to a top-three seed in the Western Conference. This was the beginning of a four-game road trip to cap the regular season.
The Hornets (33-36), who have three games remaining, are still trying to lock up a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in round.
After trailing 103-90, the Hornets rallied with a 16-4 burst, capped by Devonte’ Graham’s two 3-pointers. A minute later, a 3-pointer from Facundo Campazzo pushed Denver’s edge to 112-107 with 1:30 to play.
Graham finished with 31 points off the bench, thanks to 7-for-14 shooting from 3-point range, to lead Charlotte. Terry Rozier had 21 points, Jalen McDaniels and Cody Zeller (10 rebounds) both posted 15 points and P.J. Washington added 13 points for the Hornets.
Jokic, who had a game-high 11 rebounds along with six assists, made 16 of 17 free throws. The Hornets were 17-for-20 on foul shots as a team.
Hornets coach James Borrego was ejected in the third quarter, when the Nuggets stretched their lead to 10 points. Charlotte responded to that development, and had a chance to go ahead with 4 1/2 minutes to play in the quarter.
Then Austin Rivers scored five straight points as Denver regained momentum and held a 100-87 edge in the opening 3 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter.
Earlier, the Nuggets led 33-13 in the first quarter. The Hornets used a 10-0 run bridging the first and second quarters to close within 38-28.
Charlotte cut the gap to 61-60 when Rozier made three free throws with 10 seconds to play in the first half, before a Gordon buzzer-beater made it 63-60 at halftime.
Porter was 5-for-7 on first-half 3-pointers on his way to 23 points before the break. The rest of the Nuggets went a combined 3-for-13 from long range in the opening half.
Charlotte relied on getting into the lane, shooting 20-for-32 on 2-point attempts in the first half. That helped overcome eight turnovers.
–Field Level Media