Defending champion Nuggets finish second in West, beating Grizzlies 126-111

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Jamal Murray scored 21 points, Nikola Jokic had 15 points and 15 rebounds, and the defending champion Denver Nuggets secured the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with a 126-111 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.

The Nuggets (57-25) matched a franchise high for wins and finished with the same record as Oklahoma City, but the Thunder took the top spot in the West because of a head-to-head tiebreaker. Minnesota's loss to Phoenix dropped the Timberwolves into third, one game behind Denver.

Denver entered the game in a three-way tie with Minnesota and Oklahoma City. It was the first time such a logjam had existed on the final day of the season with three teams having a chance at the No. 1 seed. The Thunder locked up the top spot by routing Dallas.

Christian Braun scored 19 points for the Nuggets and Aaron Gordon added 15.

GG Jackson led Memphis with a career-high 44 points. Jake LaRavia finished with 29 points for the Grizzlies, who finished 27-55, 13th in the West. Memphis ended the season on a five-game skid.

Denver couldn't build a significant lead in the first half, until a 9-0 run in the latter stages led to a 66-54 halftime advantage. Denver shot 51% in the half, with Murray scoring 19 points.

A 11-2 burst for Denver to open the second half increased the lead to 21, and the Nuggets eased home, with their starters sitting out the fourth quarter.


Nuggets: Wait to see which team will emerge from the play-in tournament as their first-round playoff foe.



Clay Bailey, The Associated Press