Nikola Jokic had 24 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists for his 22nd triple-double of the season as the visiting Denver Nuggets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 115-109 on Thursday night.
Michael Porter Jr. scored 25 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 17, and Jamal Murray put up 16 points and nine assists in his return to the lineup for Denver, which has won four straight and remained unbeaten when Jokic has a triple-double.
Denver also got 11 points from Jeff Green and 10 points from Vlatko Cancar. Murray missed the previous six games due to a knee injury.
Evan Mobley had 31 points and nine rebounds, Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland scored 22 points each, and Jarrett Allen had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Cleveland took its second loss in a row after a seven-game winning streak.
The game was the first for each team following the All-Star break.
The Nuggets opened the fourth quarter with a Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer to take a one-point lead, but Mitchell followed with a 3-pointer and a three-point play to put Cleveland back in front 97-92. Denver scored the next seven points to lead by two, and the Cavaliers answered to go up 105-101, but 3-pointers by Porter and Jokic gave the Nuggets a 109-105 lead with 4:05 left.
Garland hit two free throws and a layup around a bucket by Porter to make it a two-point game. Porter’s sixth 3-pointer of the game gave Denver a 114-109 edge with 2:15 left. The Nuggets had a chance to build on the lead after a miss by Allen, but a turnover kept it a five-point game with 1:38 remaining.
Cleveland missed on its next three possessions and Denver closed it out.
The Nuggets built a 10-point lead late in the first quarter, but Cleveland rallied in the second quarter. Mitchell hit a 3-pointer and then a floater in the lane to tie it with 3:20 left in the first half, and the Cavaliers took a 57-56 lead into intermission.
The game was tied at 66-66 early in the third quarter before the Cavaliers went on a 10-3 run to lead by seven points midway through the period. Denver rallied to tie it on a putback by Jokic with 2:21 left in the quarter, fell behind 91-86 in the final seconds but got within two on Reggie Jackson’s halfcourt heave at the buzzer.
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