NBA wrap: Injury-plagued Nuggets beats Thunder to hold Western Conference lead

Even Nick "Swaggy P" Young, playing his first game in a Denver uniform, got in on the act, hitting two key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

Nikola Jokic in action during an NBA fixture.   -  (Getty Images)

With several starters sidelined long term by injuries, some observers believe the Nuggets is on the brink of a collapse.

The Nuggets entered Friday's game leading the Western Conference, playing at home, was well rested … yet it was still underdog to the Thunder.

Denver didn't play like underdogs, jumping out to a fast start and holding off a late Thunder run to score a 109-98 victory. Center Nikola Jokic scored 24, collected 15 rebounds and handed out nine assists, including this gem to Juan Hernangomez.

The Nuggets (19-9) had four other players in double-figures. Even Nick "Swaggy P" Young, playing his first game in a Denver uniform, got in on the act, hitting two key 3-pointers.

Paul George scored 32 to lead OKC (17-10). Steven Adams put up 26 points and hauled in 14 rebounds.

This was a huge win for Denver, made even greater by the fact three starters were out. Guard Gary Harris (hip), who hasn't played since December 3, is expected to be out another two to three weeks. Forward Paul Millsap, who injured his toe on December 7, is expected to miss up to five more weeks.

There is some good news on the injury front, as forward Will Barton, who has been out since the first week of the season, is expected back soon from a hip injury.

Until they're back at full strength, it's easy to underestimate how good the Nuggets have been this season. Friday, they showed that even without those starters, they can beat one of the NBA's elite teams.

Performers of the Night

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 44 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in a 114-102 win over the Cavs.

Joel Embiid scored 40 and added 21 rebounds in a 113-101 loss to the Pacers.

Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay scored 34 and had eight assists to help rally the Knicks from 19 behind at the half to a 126-124 overtime win against the Hornets.

Flop show

The Hornets blew a 15-point lead after three quarters in the overtime loss to the Knicks at home.

Highlight

Klay Thompson hits a Klutch 3-pointer in a 130-125 win over the Kings:

Kyrie Irving is in full Uncle Drew mode with this crazy ball-handling move. Boston won its eighth straight with a 129-108 win over the Hawks.