DENVER, Feb. 16 (US): Backup Jeff Green scored a season-high 24 points, Nikola Jokic scored a triple-double of the season, and the Denver Nuggets headed to the All-Star break with a 118-109 win over the short-handed Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night.
Nikola Jokic finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the Western Conference-leading Nuggets, who moved to an NBA-best 27-4 at home this season. The Associated Press reported that Michael Porter Jr. hit five 3-pointers and finished the game with 22 points.
“For us to continue to look for ways to win and have different players stepping up every night, I think that speaks to our chemistry and our depth,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. “We have a really good team there.”
Luka Doncic scored 37 points, leading the Dallas team, which missed guard Kyrie Irving due to lower back tightness. Doncic and Irving have played alongside each other for two games since Irving was purchased as part of a deal with Brooklyn on February 6.
The Nuggets led by 21 in the fourth quarter, only to see the Mavericks cut it to 105-95 with 5:50 left on a Christian Wood layup. Soon after, Porter blocked a shot at one end, ran back and hit a three-pointer on the other end to get breathing room.
He really got away with the Mavs, and it was in the second, coach Jason Kidd admitted, when the Nuggets opened up a one-point game with a 35-19 quarter lead.
“You’re in a good position against the best team in the West, so we’ll have to look at doing better,” Kidd said.
The two teams split the four-game season series.
View Denver as a favourite?
“When you have a guy like Jokic in your team, you are a favourite,” said Doncic.
Jokic joined some exclusive company by racking up over 500 assists and 500 rebounds before making an All-Star break. Other NBA players to achieve this feat are Russell Westbrook (three times, ’16-17, ’17-18, ’18-19) and Oscar Robertson (61-62).
Jokic, a two-time MVP, is still on track to average triple-doubles this season.
“He makes it feel like a walk in the park,” said recently acquired backup center Thomas Bryant of Jokic’s ease with triple-doubles. “It’s not easy at all.”
Doncic’s big night was his 65th career game with 35 or more points. Only LeBron James has had more (87) before his 24th birthday. Doncic turns 24 on February 28th.
Mavericks: F Justin Holiday was signed Wednesday. He played in 28 games with Atlanta this season and averaged 4.5 points. … F Davis Bertans (calf), G Tim Hardaway Jr. (hamstring) and F/C Maxi Kleber (hamstring) were inactive.
Nuggets: Denver was without guard Jamal Murray (sore right knee) with forward Aaron Gordon (bruised ribs).
Malone made a point of reminding his team that the All-Star break didn’t start until 11 p.m. after the game. Listen.
“Times have changed, guys are running their own jets, waiting to go somewhere,” cracked Malone, who will manage LeBron’s team in the All-Star Game.
Backup guard Reggie Jackson jumped at the opportunity to sign with the Nuggets and play close to home. Jackson, who grew up on the road in Colorado Springs, agreed to a deal with Denver on Tuesday. He wasn’t in uniform against Dallas.
The 32-year-old Jackson’s favorite player as a kid was Chauncey Billups, a Denver native who went to the University of Colorado before embarking on a long career in the NBA.
Jackson will wear No. 7 with Denver, a number that Billups wore in 2009 while with the Nuggets.
Mavericks: After the All-Star break, start a six-game home game against San Antonio on February 23.
Nuggets: In Cleveland, February 23.