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Nikola Jokic’s triple-double leads Nuggets past Hornets

Mar 28, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) drives to the basket defended by Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges (0) during the first quarter at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It took time for Nikola Jokic to get cranked up, but he carried the Denver Nuggets during second-half stretches on his way to a triple-double in a 113-109 road victory against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.

Jokic finished with 26 points, 19 rebounds and 11 assists, all team highs.

In a late-game, eight-minute span, Denver managed just seven points — and Jokic had all of them. The Nuggets, who led by 13 early in the fourth quarter, had to hold off a furious rally from the Hornets.

Aaron Gordon scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half for the Nuggets (45-31), who won for just the third time in their past six games. Will Barton racked up 18 points and Jeff Green and Monte Morris both had 14 points.

Jokic hit two free throws with 1:25 left as Denver went up 109-104. LaMelo Ball scored for the Hornets before Morris sank two foul shots. Charlotte’s Terry Rozier then connected on a 3-pointer.

Charlotte appeared to get the defensive stop it needed when Jokic missed a shot, but he grabbed his own rebound and was fouled. He made two free throws with 8.6 seconds left to push the lead to four.

Miles Bridges poured in 27 points to go with 11 rebounds for the Hornets (39-37). Ball had 22 points and 11 assists, Kelly Oubre Jr., Isaiah Thomas and Rozier all added 12 points and P.J. Washington posted 10 points.

Charlotte, which was coming off a road victory Sunday night against the Brooklyn Nets, hit only 13 of 42 attempts from 3-point range on Monday.

The Nuggets led 102-91 with 7 1/2 minutes to play. Charlotte tallied the next eight points, with Thomas and Bridges hitting 3-pointers to complete that part of the rally.

The Hornets held a 57-56 halftime edge despite shooting 5-for-20 from beyond the arc.

The Nuggets started to take control with a 13-0 run in the third quarter to move to an 80-71 lead. Jokic scored seven points during that stretch, including a free throw on a technical foul when Charlotte power forward Montrezl Harrell was ejected following a dust-up with Jokic and Gordon.

–Field Level Media