News ID: 235970
Published: 0325 GMT December 17, 2018

Nuggets beat Raptors in matchup of conference leaders

Nuggets beat Raptors in matchup of conference leaders
Denver Nuggets forward Torrey Craig (L) dunks over Toronto Raptors forward C.J. Miles in an NBA game in Denver, CO, the US, on December 16, 2018.
DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AP

Nikola Jokic scored 26 points, Jamal Murray had 15 of his 19 in the fourth quarter and the banged-up Denver Nuggets rallied past the equally banged-up Toronto Raptors 95-86 on Sunday night in a contest between NBA conference leaders.

Trailing 70-57 in the third quarter, the Nuggets went on a 23-2 run to send them to their 10th win in 12 games and retain a slim lead over Golden State in the Western Conference, The Associated Press reported.

This marks the latest the Nuggets (20-9) have been in first place in the West since December 18, 1984, according to information by Elias Sports Bureau.

Kawhi Leonard had 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors, who finished 2-2 on their trip. They still own the league's best mark at 23-9.

Murray led the charge with eight straight points early in the fourth. The defense stepped up, too, as the Raptors didn't score their first field goal in the final quarter until Leonard's dunk with 7:42 remaining.

Toronto pulled to 86-83 with 3:28 left, but Mason Plumlee's layup gave Denver some breathing room. The Raptors were 4-of-23 from the field in the fourth quarter, including 1-of-13 from three-point land.

Both teams had several key players on the bench due to injuries. The Raptors were without Kyle Lowry (thigh), Pascal Siakam (back), Fred VanVleet (back) and Jonas Valanciunas (thumb).

The Nuggets didn't have Will Barton (right hip/core muscle surgery), Gary Harris (hip) and Paul Millsap (big toe).

Not that Nuggets coach Michael Malone gave it much thought.

"Teams look at us right now with players out, and they think they can show up and beat us," Malone said. "We've shown teams, 'No, that's not the case.' We have more than enough players that are going to go out there and battle and compete."

 

 

   
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