Jokic scores 27 to lead Nuggets past Suns
DENVER — Nikola Jokic had 27 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists before leaving with an injury late in the game and the Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 127-120 on Thursday night.
Jokic went down hard under the Phoenix basket with 1:47 left. He was on the floor for a while with the entire Nuggets team surrounding him. He finally stood and limped to the locker room as the Nuggets closed out their fifth straight home win.
Danilo Gallinari added 23 points, and Will Barton had 16 for Denver. The Nuggets have won six of eight.
Eric Bledsoe led Phoenix with 28 points, Devin Booker had 24 and T.J. Warren added 21 points and eight rebounds.
Down by nine in the third quarter, Denver closed the period with a 14-5 run to take a 96-92 lead.
The lead changed hands a couple of times, with Bledsoe leading the way for Phoenix with 14 fourth-quarter points. Jokic kept pace with nine points in the period. His last basket, a short jumper in the lane, gave the Nuggets a 125-118 lead.
Suns: G Dragan Bender was inactive with right ankle soreness. The rookie missed Tuesday’s game against Minnesota as well. ... Jared Dudley was back in the lineup after sitting out Tuesday.
Nuggets: G Emmanuel Mudiay sat out his third straight game with lower back soreness. Coach Michael Malone said before the game that he didn’t think Mudiay would miss many more games. ... The Nuggets signed F Johnny O’Bryant to a 10-day contract.
Phoenix coach Earl Watson didn’t need long to decide he wanted Phoenix to get Marquese Chriss last summer in the draft after watching his pre-draft workout.
“The type of things he did athletically above the rim I hadn’t seen done before,” Watson said. “I wanted to shut the workout down after the first 10 minutes. To me it was a no-brainer.”
The 19-year-old Chriss has been solid for the Suns while learning on the job. His demeanor on and off the court reminds Watson of his former teammate, Russell Westbrook.
“Russ had this demeanor off the court of just the nicest person in the world but you get him on the court and you think he can’t be a nice person in real life,” Watson said. “Marquese kind of has that same thing.”
Chriss was in foul trouble Thursday and was held to five points in eight minutes.