Nuggets defeat 76ers 126-110 behind Jokic’s triple-double

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center.
Jan 26, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

After a complete shellacking of Phoenix on Friday night, the Denver Nuggets followed it up with a 126-110 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

With the win, Denver’s record moves to 33-15, which is good for a game behind the Golden State Warriors for first place in the Western Conference. The victory was Denver’s 22nd at the Pepsi Center this season, which ties them with the Milwaukee Bucks for the best home record (22-4) in the NBA.

Philadelphia came into the game a little shorthanded without three of their best players in Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, and Wilson Chandler. That gave Dever a bit of an advantage from the get-go, which the Nuggets took full advantage of. Even though Denver was without Jamal Murray — who missed his second career game with a left ankle sprain — the Nuggets still got off to a fast start.

Nikola Jokic was to thank for that as the Nuggets big man scored eight of Denver’s first 11 points. That allowed Denver to jump out to an early lead as they led 11-6 with 9:17 remaining in the quarter. That was just the beginning of Jokic’s big first quarter as he already had 12 points, six rebounds, and two assists in the first six minutes of the game. Jokic was scoring at will as were the rest of the Nuggets as Denver held a 25-18 lead with 4:35 left in the first.

Jokic would finish the first quarter with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists to help the Nuggets take a 41-37 lead into quarter number two. As great as Denver’s offense was playing, their defense lacked because of it and that carried over into the second quarter. Even though Denver was constantly scoring, so was Philadelphia as both teams were shooting over 56 percent midway through the second. Still, the Nuggets offense overcame their defensive struggles as they held a seven-point lead with 8:47 remaining in the half.

The back and fourth style of play continued as the half wore on as the recipe stayed the same for both teams, which was continue to score the basketball. Defense was certainly at a premium, but the Nuggets still won the offensive battle as they held a seven-point lead for most of the second quarter. Denver built on their lead as the half wore on to eventually end up taking a 77-68 lead into the halftime locker room.

Stat leaders for Denver at the half were Jokic, who had a double-double after two quarters of play with 20 points and 12 rebounds to go along with his four assists. Jokic did all that on an efficient 7-of-13 shooting from the field, while the Nuggets as a team shot 54 percent (28-of- 51) from the floor in half number one. Denver had two other players in double-figures at the break as Will Barton (13) and Torrey Craig (11) combined for 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field.

The third quarter began a lot like the rest of the game as offense stole the show. Philadelphia started the third quarter strong with a 5-0 run, but Denver quickly answered with a run of their own to maintain a nine-point lead with 9:10 left in the period. The Nuggets held that same nine-point lead for most of the quarter as they were up 93-84 with 4:30 left in the period.

Led by Jokic, Denver took a 107-96 lead into the fourth quarter as the Nuggets big man had 28 points, 17 rebounds, and nine assists through three periods of play. Jokic’s big third quarter put all the momentum on Denver’s side, which they carried on into the fourth. The Nuggets began the final period of play on a 7-0 run, which put a real damper in the 76ers comeback chances.

Philadelphia would not go away though as they cut the Nuggets lead to 12-points with 7:13 left in the fourth. It was not till Jokic checked back in that Denver put the game out of reach as the Nuggets big man captured his seventh triple-double of the season on an assist that led to a poster dunk for Malik Beasley. The poster dunk by Beasley was the proverbial nail in the coffin for Philadelphia as the Nuggets controlled the final six minutes of play to walk away with a 126-110 victory.

Stat leaders for the Nuggets were Jokic, who finished with a triple-double of 32 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists. Jokic did all that on an efficient 12-of-22 shooting from the field to go along with his two three-pointers. Other stat leaders for Denver were Barton, who had a solid night with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field. The Nuggets also got big games from Monte Morris (10), Mason Plumlee (17), Beasley (14), and Craig (15) as all four scored in double figures.

Denver now has a day off tomorrow before they travel too Memphis to face the Grizzlies on Monday at 6 p.m. MST.

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