NEW ORLEANS — — Nikola Jokic returned from a hamstring strain on a go-ahead floater in the paint with 16.9 seconds remaining and posted a 25-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist performance as the Denver Nuggets went 99-9. 98 wins against the unmanned Pelicans on Tuesday night.
Jamal Murray scored 25 points for the Nuggets, who led by as much as 19 points for most of the game before New Orleans stormed into the fourth quarter to take the only second-half lead at 98-97 with 36.9 seconds remaining. took the lead of
After Jokic pushed Denver back in front, the Pelicans had three shots to win in the final seconds before going on a five-game losing streak.
McCollum’s botched turnaround was rebounded by Pelicans forward Herb Jones, and the putback was blocked out of bounds by Bruce Brown.
After a timeout, the Pelicans took the ball to McCallum for a corner 3-point attempt that hit the rim, leaving a 0 for 8 from deep in an otherwise productive 20-point night. .
The Pelicans dropped 18 points in the third quarter, but recovered quickly with the help of 6-foot point guard Jose Alvarado. José Alvarado scored 14 of 17 points in the final 13 minutes with a crowd-pleasing driving floater and layup. .
Alvardo’s exploit caused Denver coach Mike Malone to disgustly call timeouts three times in the final period. Fortunately for Denver, Jokic showed no signs of rust or discomfort after missing two games with a strained left hamstring. He played his 36 minutes and shot 11 of 14, including his two shots from deep.
Jokic scored 11 points in the first quarter to beat his team 26-24. When he returned, Denver’s lead had extended to his 15, thanks to a 13–0 run in which Murray hit his 3, a turnaround fade, and driving his layup.
Murray scored 16 points in the second quarter, including Caldwell-Pope’s fast-breaking lob back alley jam after stealing McCallum’s cross-court pass.
At halftime, Murray had a 19-point lead with Denver leading 63-47.
Nuggets: Brown and Aaron Gordon each scored 11 points. … Malone coached for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19. This caused him to miss Denver’s last four games. Malone spent most of his absence from the team locked up in the basement, he said. “It was just me on the sofa and the TV. And it was like a frugal life,” Malone said. A 42-year-old woman was away from the club while caring for her brother Covan, a 21-year-old University of Denver basketball player who was charged with vehicular manslaughter in connection with a . “When it happens, it’s a very sober experience for everyone,” Malone said. “I told him to take as much time as he needed to be with his family. … Bones Hyland was also out with a sprained finger on his left hand.
Pelicans: Jonas Valanciunas scored 10 and Willy Hernangomez scored 12. … rookie shooting guard Dyson Daniels injured his right ankle when he landed awkwardly on Denver forward Zeke Nagy’s leg after attempting a floater with paint. He needed help getting off the court and he didn’t come back. … Brandon Ingram (left thumb) has missed his 29th straight game, Zion Williamson (right hamstring) has missed his 11th straight game, and Naji Marshall (right thumb) has missed his 3rd straight game. Missed consecutively.
Nuggets: Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
Pelicans: Host Minnesota on Wednesday night.
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