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Jokic's triple-double lifts Nuggets past Rockets 134-124 in Murray's return

DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, Michael Porter Jr. scored a season-high 30 points and the Denver Nuggets rolled past the Houston Rockets 134-124 on Wednesday night in Jamal Murray's return from a hamstring injury.

Murray scored 16 points after missing Denver’s past 11 games. After starting 6-1 with Murray available, the Nuggets were just 6-5 without their point guard.

It was the third consecutive win for the NBA champion Nuggets, who had lost four of five before their current streak.

Jokic, who was sidelined with a lower back injury in a win Monday at the Los Angeles Clippers, recorded his seventh triple-double of the season. Entering the night, all other NBA players had combined for just eight triple-doubles.

Denver had lost twice to the Rockets in November, including a 19-point loss in Houston five days earlier. The Nuggets improved their NBA-best home record to 9-0 while dropping the Rockets to 0-7 on the road.

While Murray returned, Denver was without forward Aaron Gordon, who missed his third consecutive game with a strained right heel.

Welcomed with a roaring “He’s back!” from the public address announcer and a hearty ovation from the home crowd before tip-off, Murray came down awkwardly after missing a contested shot at the rim two minutes into the game and walked gingerly back to the bench after a Nuggets timeout. He returned to the game after the timeout, though, and sank a deep 3-pointer on Denver’s next possession.

After that initial scare, his team had little reason to worry the rest of the night.

Led by 12 points from Porter, the Nuggets scored a season-high 41 points in the first quarter and led by as many as 19 in the period. Denver never trailed and led by double digits for all but the opening 4:16.

Jalen Green paced the Rockets with 26 points, 18 in a third quarter in which he made all six of his field goals and all four of his 3s. Alperen Sengun added 22 points for Houston, which lost for the fifth time in seven games following a surprise 6-3 start.

The Rockets were without guard Fred VanVleet, the team’s third-leading scorer and $130 million offseason acquisition, who was sidelined with a sprained left thumb.

UP NEXT

Denver: At Phoenix on Friday.

Houston: At Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.

Craig Meyer, The Associated Press