Murray, Jokic lead charge as Nuggets beat Warriors 134-117
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray just nodded when asked if this might be the most confident he’s ever been.
Nothing else really needed to be said.
Murray had 33 points and Nikola Jokic recorded his 17th triple-double of the season, leading the Denver Nuggets to a 134-117 win over the short-handed Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
“Jamal, his greatness is on full display,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, who campaigned for Murray to be added to the All-Star roster should a replacement be necessary.
Murray scored 17 of his points in a pivotal third quarter, when the Nuggets broke open a tight game with a 16-0 run.
“Guys are shooting well,” Murray explained. “Everybody.”
Jokic had another big night with 22 points, 16 assists and 14 rebounds. The reigning two-time MVP had a triple-double by the midway mark of the third quarter as the Nuggets remain unbeaten this season when he reaches the plateau.
With that performance, Jokic is now averaging a triple-double for the year. It’s latest into a season a player 6-foot-11 or taller has averaged a triple-double in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
“He’s good at everything,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Literally every time he has the ball, everybody is a threat. Your entire defense has to be engaged.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 18 points for the Western Conference-leading Nuggets, who improved to 24-4 at home.
Stephen Curry had 28 points and Jordan Poole added 22 on a night when Golden State hit 19 3-pointers. The Warriors started off hot — building an 11-point lead in the second quarter — before losing steam. They lost in overtime a night earlier at Minnesota.
The reigning NBA champions fall to 26-26. No panic, though.
“I’m very optimistic we can get it turned around,” Curry said. “But we do have to address certain issues with our team, whether it’s performance issues or whether it’s trying to find the right combinations.”
Both teams were missing key components. The Warriors were without Klay Thompson (injury management) and Draymond Green, who was a late scratch with tightness in his right calf. Denver didn’t have Aaron Gordon due to a sore ankle.
Jokic was just named the Western Conference’s player of the month. He picked up where he left off after averaging 24 points, 11.6 rebounds and 11.3 assists in January.
“There’s a reason he’s a two-time MVP and obviously a front-runner for a third one,” Kerr said.
Warriors: Golden State is 5-6 on the second night of a back-to-back. … Forward Andrew Wiggins had 10 rebounds.
Nuggets: Guard Bones Hyland, whose name has been mentioned in trade speculation, didn’t play. … Michael Porter Jr. had five 3-pointers. … Vlatko Cancar finished with 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting. The reason for his efficiency? “Being the worst player in the starting five,” he cracked.
Malone was disappointed that Gordon didn’t make the reserve squad for the All-Star Game. Gordon’s averaging 16.8 points and 6.8 rebounds.
“As disappointed as we all are, our goals are much higher than the individual accolades that come along,” Malone said. “We are striving to win a championship and we know that Aaron Gordon is a huge part of that.”
Malone has been checking in on Porter and offering support. Porter’s brother, University of Denver basketball player Coban Porter, was charged Wednesday with felony counts of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault stemming from a suspected drunken-driving crash that killed a 42-year-old woman.
“Without getting into details, it’s just showing Michael Porter how much we all care about him and letting him know that if there’s anything that I or we can do for him and his family, to make sure he lets us know,” Malone said.
Warriors: Home against Dallas on Saturday.
Nuggets: Host Atlanta on Saturday.
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