Jokic’s triple-double leads Nuggets to Kings, 115-110
DENVER — — Monte Morris had a 3-point tiebreaker with 28 seconds left, Nikola Jokic had 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Sacramento Kings 115-110 on Saturday night.
It was Jokic’s 16th triple-double of the season and 73rd of his career. His rebound with 19 seconds left finished the triple-double and helped Denver to its second win over the Kings in three nights.
He spent most of the night battling Domantas Sabonis, who finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
“I think Domas did a good job of just staying on the ground, not biting into the pump knockoffs,” Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry said of the defense against Jokic. “That’s all you can ask him to do. It’s hard to play him. They go so much towards him and he puts so much pressure on you.”
The Nuggets have won five straight and went 10 games above .500 for the first time this season.
“We’re in a good position. We’re 7-1 in our last eight games with really impressive wins, on the road at Toronto, on the road at Golden State,” said the Denver coach, Michael Malone. “We are by no means satisfied.”
De’Aaron Fox had 26 points and 10 assists for Sacramento, which has dropped four in a row. Harrison Barnes scored 24 points.
“There are no moral victories,” Barnes said. “We want to win these games and that’s what we hope to do.”
The Nuggets trailed by seven late in the third quarter, but went 18-1 through the third and fourth quarters to lead 94-85. Sacramento went 10 straight to go up one, and the teams traded leads in the final 7 1/2 minutes.
Aaron Gordon, who had 23 points and nine rebounds, hit a 3-pointer to put Denver ahead 105-104. The Kings rallied to equalize twice before Morris cleared the basket from the top of the arc. Sabonis missed a layup and Jokic made two free throws with 15 seconds remaining.
“(Morris) and Nikola playing the two-man game and Fox went under (the screen) three times, daring him to shoot,” Malone said.
Morris said he asked opposing players how the league defended him and used that knowledge to his advantage.
I’m cool with a lot of NBA guys and always ask them after games or if we’re going out to dinner, just to keep me out of the paint and try to force myself to make the play instead of bringing the ball to ( Jokic),” said Morris, who finished with 21 points.
“I’m working a lot on that shot and just having the confidence to take it and do it for my team is important.”
Kings: C Richaun Holmes (back) missed his second game in a row. … Sacramento swept three Nuggets games last season but lost the first three to them this season. The teams play once again, March 9 in Sacramento.
Nuggets: C Zeke Nnaji (hamstring/knee pain) missed his fifth game in a row. … Will Barton moved into one of JR Smith for the franchise-record 3-pointer. He was 3 of 8 behind the line and finished the night with 767 with Denver.
Gentry said the team supports center Alex Len, whose homeland Ukraine was invaded by Russia this week. Toronto’s Len and Svi Mykhailiuk are the only two Ukrainian players in the NBA.
“He’s very worried,” Gentry said of Len. “As things get worse there, you have no idea what’s going on and communication has become much more difficult. I just make sure he knows we are thinking of him and that we We worry about his family.”
The Nuggets signed center DeMarcus Cousins on Friday for the remainder of the season after playing under three separate 10-day contracts with the team.
Cousins had nine points and a technical Saturday.
“I was just happy for him. The journey hasn’t been easy,” Malone said. “It’s not just a feel-good moment, he’s helping us. He’s not on the bench waving a towel, he’s giving us something we need.”