Jokic returns with triple-double, Nuggets top Pelicans, 99-98

Jokic returns with triple-double, Nuggets top Pelicans, 99-98

Updated: 5 days, 19 hours, 35 minutes, 7 seconds ago

NEW ORLEANS -- Nikola Jokic capped a 25-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist performance in his return from hamstring tightness with a go-ahead floater in the paint with 16.9 seconds left, and the Denver Nuggets escaped with a 99-98 victory over the undermanned Pelicans on Tuesday night.

Jamal Murray scored 25 points for the Nuggets, who led for nearly the entire game and by as many as 19 points before New Orleans stormed back in the fourth quarter to take its only lead of the second half at 98-97 with 36.9 seconds left.

After Jokic put Denver back in front, the Pelicans had three shots to win it in the final seconds before losing their fifth straight.

McCollum's missed turnaround was rebounded by Pelicans forward Herb Jones, whose putback was blocked out of bounds by Bruce Brown.

After a timeout, the Pelicans got the ball to McCollum for a corner 3-point attempt that clanged off the rim, leaving him 0 for 8 from deep on an otherwise productive, 20-point night.

Down by as many as 18 during the third quarter, the Pelicans surged back with the help of 6-foot point guard Jose Alvarado, who scored 14 of his 17 points in the last 13 minutes with an array of crowd-pleasing driving floaters and layups.

Alvardo's exploits cause Denver coach Mike Malone to disgusted call timeout three times in the final period. Fortunately for Denver, Jokic showed no signs of rust or discomfort after left hamstring tightness had sidelined him for two games. He wound up playing 36 minutes, hitting 11 of 14 shots, including two from deep.

Jokic scored 11 points in the first quarter and subbed out with his team up 26-24. When he returned, Denver's lead had grown to 15, thanks to a 13-0 run during which Murray hit a 3, a turnaround fade and a driving layup.

Murray wound up scoring 16 points in the second quarter, including an alley-oop jam of Caldwell-Pope's fast-break lob after his steal of McCollum's cross-court pass.

Be halftime, Murray had 19 points and Denver led 63-47.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Brown and Aaron Gordon each scored 11 points. ... Malone was coaching for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19, which caused him to miss Denver's previous four games. Malone said he spent most of his absence from the team secluded in his basement. "It was just me a couch, a TV, and, you know, it was like spartan-type living," Malone said. ... Michael Porter Jr. remained away from the club while tending to the affairs of his brother, Coban, a 21-year-old Denver University basketball player who's been charged with vehicular manslaughter in connection with a recent two-vehicle crash that killed a 42-year-old woman. "When that happens, it's a very sobering experience for everybody," Malone said. "I told him to take as much time as he needs to be with his family." ... Bones Hyland also was out with a finger sprain on his left hand.

Pelicans: Jonas Valanciunas scored 10 points and Willy Hernangomez added 12 points. ... Rookie shooting guard Dyson Daniels hurt his right ankle when he landed awkwardly on Denver forward Zeke Nnaji's foot after attempting a floater in the paint. He needed help getting off the court and did not return. ... Brandon Ingram (left large toe) missed his 29th straight game, Zion Williamson (right hamstring) missed his 11th straight and Naji Marshall (right large toe) missed his third straight.

UP NEXT

Nuggets: At Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

Pelicans: Host Minnesota on Wednesday night.

HEAT 98, CELTICS 95

MIAMI -- Bam Adebayo had 30 points and 15 rebounds, including the jump shot that put Miami ahead to stay with 20.4 seconds remaining, and the Heat rallied from 14 down to beat the Boston Celtics 98-95 on Tuesday night.

Haywood Highsmith had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Max Strus scored 13 points and Victor Oladipo had 12 for the Heat.

A 15-0 run in the fourth quarter lifted the Heat, who split the regular-season series with the Celtics 2-2.

Jayson Tatum finished with 31 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Celtics. Derrick White scored 23 points, and Robert Williams III had 11.

Tyler Herro stole a cross-court pass thrown by Jayson Tatum with just over a second remaining, denying Boston a chance to tie or take the lead.

Highsmith's free throw with 0.6 seconds left put Miami up by three. Boston called time, and Payton Pritchard's straightaway 30-footer fell short as time expired.

KNICKS 105, CAVALIERS 103

NEW YORK -- Julius Randle had 36 points and 13 rebounds, and his eighth 3-pointer snapped a tie with 2:07 left as New York beat Cleveland.

Donovan Mitchell had 24 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in his return to the Cavaliers from a three-game absence with a left groin strain. But he had was stopped on his last three attempts at the rim and was slow to get up after falling to the ground in an effort to save Cleveland's final possession, saying afterward his legs cramped.

RJ Barrett added 16 points and Jalen Brunson had 14 for the Knicks, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Jarrett Allen had 24 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, while Darius Garland added 22 points and six assists.

PACERS 116, BULLS 110

INDIANAPOLIS -- Myles Turner and Bennedict Mathurin each scored 26 points and Mathurin's short, go-ahead basket with 29.1 seconds left helped Indiana close out a rally from 21 points down to beat Chicago.

Indiana snapped a season-worst seven-game losing streak to stay ahead of 10th-place Chicago in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers played again without injured point guard Tyrese Haliburton and this time without his replacement, Andrew Nembhard, who was sick.

T.J. McConnell had 20 points and 10 assists for the Pacers. DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points for Chicago.

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) dunks next to New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) argues a call against him by referee Lauren Holtkamp-Sterling, left, during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray dunks against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) and Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) reach for the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) dunks against New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) shoots over Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez (9) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)