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Nuggets turn back Thunder’s comeback bid

Mar 26, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Aleksej Pokusevski (17) fouls Denver Nuggets forward Jeff Green (32) in the first quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Jokic had 35 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, Aaron Gordon added 20 points and nine rebounds, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-107 on Saturday night.

Will Barton scored 18 points for the Nuggets (44-31), who earned a split of the four-game season series with Oklahoma City.

Theo Maledon scored 20 points, Aleksej Pokusevski finished with 17, Tre Mann added 15, Lindy Waters III 14, Isaiah Roby 12 and Aaron Wiggins 10 for the Thunder (21-53).

Denver took the lead early in the first quarter and went ahead by as much as nine before taking a 32-25 advantage into the second quarter.

The Nuggets went on an 8-0 run on their way to pushing their lead to 58-42 with 1:08 left in the second quarter. However, Pokusevski hit a 3-pointer and Mann was fouled while sinking another 3-pointer and hit the free throw for a quick seven points to end the half.

Oklahoma City went on an 11-2 run early in the third quarter to pull within 62-60, but Denver responded. Jokic converted a three-point play, Barton made a coast-to-coast layup and Gordon hit a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to eight.

Later in the quarter Jeff Green’s putback tip made it 76-66, and the Nuggets went ahead 85-70 on a floater by Jokic. They led 87-76 heading into the fourth.

Bones Hyland started the final quarter with two free throws for the Nuggets, but the Thunder rallied. Wiggins, Pokusevski and Mann hit 3-pointers in less than two minutes to cut the deficit to 91-88 and prompt a Denver timeout.

The Nuggets went back up by five, but Oklahoma City tied it at 97 on Maledon’s bank shot midway through the fourth, and Pokusevski scored on a goaltending call with 2:51 left to put the Thunder in front 105-103.

Jokic’s floater and two Gordon free throws put Denver back in front, and Monte Morris hit a 3-pointer with 47.8 seconds left to make it 110-105.

Maledon made two free throws, but Jokic’s three-point play with 23.3 seconds left sealed the win.

–Field Level Media