Jokic, Murray help Nuggets stay in race by beating Wizards

ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 24, 2018 09:42 AM
Jokic, Murray help Nuggets stay in race by beating Wizards
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15), from Serbia, shoots past Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13), from Poland, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 23, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
By Stephen Whyno, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray each scored 25 points to keep the Denver Nuggets' playoff hopes alive by beating the Washington Wizards 108-100 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time).

The one-two punch of Jokic and Murray plus outside shooting from Will Barton allowed the Nuggets to withstand a third-quarter charge from the Wizards and maintain their sights on one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. Denver went into the night two games back of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz and shot 50 percent from three-point territory to stay very much in the race with nine games remaining.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 24 points as it failed to gain ground in a competitive East where five teams are separated in the standings by four games.


Nuggets: Barton finished with 23 points, including five three's. ... Had only 10 turnovers after 23 in their first meeting with Washington in October. ... F Paul Millsap played 25 minutes after being questionable with flu-like symptoms. ... G Gary Harris missed his fourth consecutive game with a right knee injury. ...

Wizards: Seven three-pointers in the third quarter were as many or more than the Wizards made in 21 different full games this season. ... G John Wall, who has been out almost two months after left knee injury, is doing some basketball activities and could practice as soon as Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). There's no definitive timeframe for Wall's return. ... F Mike Scott and G Jodie Meeks returned after each missing a game for illness.


Some students, parents and teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School stopped by the Wizards' shootaround Friday morning (Friday evening, PHL time) and met with coach Scott Brooks, who called it an honor to speak with them. They're in Washington to march for gun control after 17 people were killed at the school last month.

"They're here for a purpose," Brooks said. "They've been through a lot. They've been through things that they shouldn't have to go through."


With Denver far from in control of its own playoff hopes, coach Michael Malone isn't ignoring the out-of-town scores.

"When I'm going to bed at nighttime, you look at the score around the NBA, but I am not refreshing my phone every two minutes to see scores," Malone said. "If we don't take care of our business, none of this stuff matters."


At halftime, Phil Chenier became the fifth player in Wizards/Bullets history to have his number retired as his 45 was unveiled in the rafters along with a 33 and microphone to commemorate his time as a broadcaster. Chenier is the third player from the 1978 NBA championship team to have his number retired, joining Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, though back surgery prevented him from taking part in that playoff run.

"It really was exciting for me to see that 45 up there and to see my name," Chenier said afterward. "It looked good up there."

In a video message shown in the third quarter, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar asked, "The only question is, what took them so long?"


Nuggets: Make stop No. 5 of their seven-game road trip Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) at Philadelphia to continue their playoff pursuit.

Wizards: Host the New York Knicks on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) with the possibility of clinching their second consecutive playoff berth.

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