Nikola Jokic saves Nuggets again in overtime win over Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS — One game after a team-record comeback, the Denver Nuggets allowed the Minnesota Timberwolves to nearly do the same. Nikola Jokic saved Denver each time.
Jokic hit a fadeaway jumper with 2.4 seconds left to give the Nuggets a 100-98 overtime victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.
“At this point, you just sit back and watch it,” Denver forward Paul Millsap said. “I believe in the shots he’s making, and in those situations we’ve just got to give it to him.”
Jokic was in a similar spot, hitting a winning jumper with 2.2 seconds left Friday night in a comeback victory at home against Philadelphia. He had 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists Sunday to help Denver win its fourth straight game.
Will Barton had 13 points, including a pair of 3s in overtime, and 12 rebounds. Millsap scored all 14 of his points during a big third-quarter run and had 10 rebounds.
“They had really good momentum and we didn’t shoot well,” Jokic said of the late-game collapse. “They were really aggressive. But they sent it to overtime, which was good for us. It gave us options to win the game.”
Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 16 rebounds for Minnesota. Towns pushed the game to overtime with a corner 3, but the Wolves shot a season-low 13.3% from 3-point range and 35.1% overall from the field.
Andrew Wiggins added 25 points in Minnesota’s third loss in four games.
“We understand we play tomorrow,” Wolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “We said with about six minutes left, we’re going to make one push here, give it about a minute and a half. We’re down 16. These guys came back, they fought. I give so much credit to our players.”
Denver led by 16 in the fourth when Gary Harris hit a 3 with 6:41 left. The Nuggets went scoreless the remainder of regulation and Minnesota put together a 16-0 streak.
“We have to better in terms of playing with the lead and closing games out,” Denver coach Mike Malone said. “But we never panicked. I thought Will Barton down the stretch was huge – he made some big plays for us. Poised, he was under control. Nikola makes another improbable shot. He just adds to the legend of Nikola Jokic.”
With Saunders, Minnesota has placed an added emphasis on the 3 this year. The Wolves entered the game with the third-most attempts in the league at 40.5 per-game. But they were just 25th while hitting 31.8% of the shots.
Minnesota was 0 for 10 from beyond the arc in the third as Denver took control, and 2 for 22 in the second half and overtime.
The Wolves’ previous worst 3-point shooting performance was Friday night against Golden State when it was 9 of 36. They are 15 of 81 from 3 in the two games.
“There was a lot of good looks,” said forward Robert Covington, who was 0 of 2 from 3. “Them shots are going to fall, it’s just, got to believe in them, that’s all.”
Coming off one of his best games of the season, Denver point guard Jamal Murray was clicking early, scoring 12 of the team’s first 19 points while making all five of his shots.
Murray left the game just 41 seconds into the second half with left foot soreness but later returned. He scored all 15 of his points in the first half and was 0-of-8 shooting in the second half.
Nuggets: Backup guard Malik Beasley left with an illness after playing five scoreless minutes. … The Nuggets are 22-9 at Target Center since 2004-05.
Timberwolves: Point guards Jeff Teague (illness) and Shabazz Napier (right hamstring strain) each missed their third straight game. … Minnesota had one turnover in the first quarter. . The Wolves tied a season-high with 10 blocks, which they last accomplished Friday against Golden State. The last time they had double-digit blocks in back-to-back games was Nov. 14-16, 2012.
Nuggets: Host Atlanta on Tuesday night.
Timberwolves: At Detroit on Monday night.
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