Murray, Jokic lead Nuggets past Magic, 91-87
Murray scored 22 points, Jokic had 20 points and seven rebounds and both made big late plays to help Denver beat Orlando 91-87 on Saturday night.
“It’s the little stuff that’s going to help us be successful on offense,” Murray said. “We all know we can shoot, we’re struggling with shots right now, but all that will change sometime.”
Jokic hit a shot from the corner with 1:53 left to put Denver up 84-81. Murray made a jumper with 1:24 left, drove for a dunk and an 88-83 lead with 35 seconds remaining, and wrapped up the victory with two free throws with 5.1 seconds left.
“If you’re a good team, you don’t go on extended losing streaks. That’s the reality of the NBA,” said Denver coach Michael Malone. “If you’re going to be a good team, you respond. … So we got back to defending and play with great energy and sharing the ball.”
Sixteen of Jokic’s 20 points came in the second half.
“I was just more aggressive,” he said. “I just wanted to make them react to me, and that takes a lot of pressure off other players.”
The Nuggets shot only 37%, but pulled ahead in the third quarter when the Magic made only seven of 25 shots.
Nikola Vuevic scored 24 points for Orlando, and Aaron Gordon added 21 points and nine rebounds.
Vucevic made his first five shots and helped Orlando to a 12-point lead, the largest of the game for either team.
Two free throws by Torrey Craig with 4:01 left in the third quarter gave the Nuggets their first lead, 61-60. A 3-pointer by Malik Beasley stretched Denver’s lead to eight early in the fourth quarter.
Vucevic’s 3-pointer tied it at 81 with 3:57 left, but Murray and Jokic scored nine of Denver’s 10 points after that.
Nuggets: F Will Barton missed a second game with an inflamed left toe. … Coach Michael Malone burned two timeouts within 41 seconds during a first-quarter Magic run. … F Michael Porter Jr., who played 21 minutes in his NBA debut Thursday night, had three points and four rebounds in seven minutes. … Denver failed to score 100 points for the first time this season. Orlando has yet to score 100.
Magic: C Mo Bamba fouled out late in the third quarter, having produced one point and six rebounds in 10 minutes. … G Michael Carter-Williams missed a second straight game with a left hip contusion.
FULTZ GETS FIRST MAGIC START
Markelle Fultz started for the first time for Orlando, replacing D.J. Augustin at point guard. The first overall pick by Philadelphia in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fultz was traded to the Magic in February but did not play last season for the Magic. Augustin had started 115 straight games for the Magic going back to Feb. 8, 2018.
MORE SHOTS FOR JOKIC
Jokic took 14 shots, matching his total in the two preceding games. “For us to be at our best we need him to take at least 15 shots a night,” Malone said. “That’s a challenge for him the way teams guard him. Nobody’s ever going to accuse Nikola Jokic of being a selfish player, but I need him to come out and set the tone early, be more aggressive and look to score. Now that’s going to open things up for everybody else.”
Nuggets: Host Miami on Tuesday night.
Magic: At Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.