Nikola Jokic has 21 points, 16 assists, Nuggets hold off Suns 119-111

PHOENIX (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 16 assists, Reggie Jackson added 20 points and the Denver Nuggets held off the Phoenix Suns 119-111 for a hard-fought victory Friday night.

Down 17 in the first half, the Suns — on a night Kevin Durant moved into 10th place on the NBA's career scoring list — cut Denver's lead to 94-91 entering the fourth.

Phoenix tied it three times early in the fourth — and the game stayed within one possession for much of the period — but Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. were among multiple players who made clutch buckets to keep the Nuggets ahead.

Denver has won four straight. All five starters — including Jokic, Jackson, Porter, Justin Holiday and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored at least 15 points.

Jusuf Nurkic led the Suns — playing without Devin Booker — with a season-high 31 points but fouled out after being called for a charge with 45 seconds remaining, which was upgraded to a Flagrant 1, meaning Jokic got to shoot two free throws. He made one of two for a 115-111 lead and Denver retained possession.

Jokic followed with a tough layup in traffic with 24.1 seconds remaining to seal it.

Durant added 30 points but shot just 8 of 25 from the field, including 0 for 5 in the fourth quarter. Nurkic shot 13 of 22 from the field.

Durant moved in 10th place on scoring list late in the second quarter, driving the baseline for a layup to pass Moses Malone with 27,411 career points.

Denver jumped out to a 41-30 lead going into the second quarter after shooting 79.2% (19 of 24) from the field. The Nuggets settled for a 70-63 advantage at halftime.

Both teams were missing key pieces. The Suns were playing without Booker (ankle) and Bradley Beal (back) while the Nuggets were without Jamal Murray (ankle) and Aaron Gordon (heel).


Nuggets: At Sacramento on Saturday night.

Suns: Host Memphis on Saturday night.



David Brandt, The Associated Press