Jokic’s triple-double leads Nuggets past the Raptors


Wed, Dec 05, 2018 - Page 16

Nikola Jokic got his second triple-double of the season to help the injury-riddled Denver Nuggets overcome another key absence.

Jokic on Monday capped a big night with three free throws in the final seven seconds and Kyle Lowry missed a three-pointer at the buzzer as the Nuggets survived the loss of leading scorer Gary Harris to beat the Toronto Raptors 106-103.

“To beat the No. 1 team in the East means a lot to us,” Jokic said.

Jokic made it 104-103 with a free throw with 7.0 seconds left, then hit two more foul shots with 5.6 seconds remaining before Lowry bounced a 26-footer off the rim.

Jokic had 23 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds, Jamal Murray scored 21 points, while Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez each scored 15 points for Denver.

The Nuggets won their sixth straight and halted Toronto’s winning streak at eight.

“He does everything,” Murray said of Jokic. “He passes, rebounds, handles the ball. There’s nothing he really can’t do, except jump.”

Raptors coach Nick Nurse said he does not see much missing from Jokic’s toolbox.

“I was kind of hoping we’d be able to disrupt him with a little bit more pressure,” Nurse said. “He just seemed to handle it. We worked hard on him, we tried to put him under some duress with the ball, but it just didn’t faze him.”

Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points, Serge Ibaka had 15 and Pascal Siakam 14 for the Raptors.

Harris scored three points in the opening quarter, but did not play after the first because of a sore right hip. He came in averaging a team-high 17.3 points per game.

Harris was expected to undergo an MRI yesterday before the Nuggets leave Toronto for Orlando, where they play today.

“Hopefully, we can get him back really soon,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

“Gary is such a big part of what we’re trying to do, big loss,” he said.

Lowry returned after sitting out Saturday’s loss at Cleveland because of an unspecified back injury, the first game he had missed this season.

He shot one of seven, missing five of six from three-point range.

Lowry left without speaking to reporters. Leonard was also unavailable because he was working out.

Toronto shot 11 for 41 from outside the arc.

“They wanted to win more than we did,” Siakam said. “We didn’t bring the energy we usually have.”

The game pitted Leonard, the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, against Denver’s Paul Millsap, the Western Conference award winner.

“A win is a win, it doesn’t matter who it’s against, but it does mean a little bit more to win against a top team like the Raptors,” Millsap said.

The Nuggets led 86-78 to begin the fourth quarter, but Toronto tied it at 94-94 on Ibaka’s dunk at 4 minutes, 41 seconds.

Ibaka made a pair of free throws and Leonard drained a jump shot with 54 seconds left to put Toronto up 101-100, their first lead of the second half.

Jokic restored Denver’s lead with 40 seconds remaining, before Danny Green missed twice at the other end.

Hernangomez was fouled grabbing the rebound on Green’s second miss and made one of two from the free-throw line, but Leonard answered with a jumper, tying it 103-103 with seven seconds left.