DENVER—Nikola Jokic had 27 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his second triple-double of the season and Jamal Murray added 18 points and 14 assists as the Denver Nuggets continued their strong start to the season with a 110-102 win over the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
Jokic is tied with LeBron James and Jason Kidd for fourth on the all-time list with 107 career triple-doubles in the National Basketball Association.
“It speaks to his greatness, it speaks to his consistency, night in and night out playing the game at an extremely high level,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “The one thing you can compare LeBron and Nikola with is the ability to make everyone around them better. That is the definition of greatness.”
Aaron Gordon scored 21 points, most on thunderous dunks, as Denver extended its season-opening winning streak to four games. It is the Nuggets’ first 4-0 start since 2018 and the sixth in franchise history. The 1976-77 team’s 8-0 start is the best in club history.
Denver was coming off a win at Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon and was playing its third game in four days. The Nuggets are in a stretch in which they play five games in seven days.
“I’m not gonna lie, those back-to-back, those travel days, those are tough, but we’ve just got to win,” Murray said. “However we get it. Everything’s better when you win. My body feels a lot better when we win and film is a lot more fun to watch when we win.”
Lauri Markkanen had 27 points and 14 rebounds, Walker Kessler added 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Talen Horton-Tucker scored 16 points for Utah.
Denver has trailed for just four-and-a-half minutes this season. The Jazz led 3-2 for 16 seconds before the Nuggets grabbed the lead for good on a layup by Gordon.
Denver finished with 32 assists one night after it had 34 against the Thunder and is averaging 30.5 assists a game, so far.
“Whoever comes here I think they figure out, ‘Oh, we share the ball, I’m going to share it, too.’” Jokic said.
The Nuggets led by 17 points early in the second half before the Jazz went on a run and closed within 73-65 late in the third quarter. Collin Sexton hit two 3-pointers to cut it to 85-80 against Denver’s reserves early in the fourth, but after a timeout coach Michael Malone went back to his stars.
Jokic hit a hook shot, fed Gordon for an easy dunk and then Gordon followed Christian Braun’s miss with another slam to make it an 11-point game, and the Nuggets closed it out.
“Jokic and Murray are both capable of making a lot of tough shots,” Utah coach Will Hardy said. “They put you in difficult positions, with not only their scoring but their playmaking. But I feel like our team showed what we’re capable of and now it’s about finding that consistency from the beginning of the game.”
Image credits: AP