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Nikola Jokic buries winner as Nuggets steal thriller vs. Sixers in 21-point comeback win


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The frenzied, ugly possession couldn’t have ended any sweeter for the Nuggets.

Nikola Jokic buried a jumper with 1.2 seconds remaining, and the Nuggets stunned the 76ers on Friday night with a 100-97 comeback win. Denver was down 21 points early in the fourth quarter before Jokic and his star duo partner Jamal Murray seized the spotlight.

Jokic saved 16 of his 26 points for the fourth, but no basket was bigger than his game-winning jumper off a pass from Paul Millsap. In total, Murray finished with 22 points, 11 assists and five rebounds. It was perhaps his best all-around game of the season, considering the defense and infectious energy he played with.

Both Millsap and Will Barton drained 3-pointers as part of the stunning comeback, which helped offset what had been a bad night from 3-point range. The Nuggets finished 9 for 22 from deep, while Philadelphia drained 13 of 26 3-pointers.

Sixers star Joel Embiid fouled out late in the fourth quarter with 19 points and 15 rebounds. His final foul drew an emotional outburst from Jokic that saw him barking and embracing with courtside fans.

During the postgame interview, Jokic was showered with “M-V-P” chants that were more than commonplace last season.

Thanks to a flurry from Murray, the Nuggets momentarily cut to the deficit to six with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter. But from then on, the Sixers closed the quarter on a 19-6 run that stretched the lead once again. Embiid spearheaded the effort with a deep 3-pointer along with an and-one to end the quarter and give Philadelphia an 84-65 lead.

Up to that point, Philadelphia’s reserves had dominated Denver’s bench to help supplement their starters. But Murray, with his playmaking and vision, kept competing.

The Nuggets caught the first major break of the night when 76ers star point guard Ben Simmons was ruled out with a right shoulder injury. That effectively limited Philadelphia’s length on defense and took away their primary offensive facilitator.

“When he plays, I can’t think of another starting lineup that has that much length, so when you take him out of the lineup, that takes a little bit of it away,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “But (Joel) Embiid, (Al) Horford, and Tobias Harris at the 3, 4, 5 present major problems.”

That’s especially true for the Nuggets, whose lack of size on the wing is most apparent on the defensive end.

Malone’s biggest concern heading into Friday night was limiting their turnovers. As long as they are, the 76ers’ wings clog up passing lanes and create easy transition opportunities. The Nuggets actually did a fair job of protecting the ball in the first half, but they couldn’t buy a basket.

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Source:: The Denver Post – Sports

      

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