Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray lead Denver past Memphis 108-104
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, Jamal Murray also had 22 points and the Denver Nuggets thwarted a fourth-quarter rally to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 108-104 on Friday night.
Reggie Jackson added 16 points for the defending champions as Denver won its second straight to open the season.
Jaren Jackson Jr. led Memphis with 21 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, while Marcus Smart finished with 20 points and five assists.
Desmond Bane had 15 points despite going 4 of 17 from the floor and 1 of 10 from 3-point range.
Memphis took a 98-97 lead midway through the fourth, but Jokic’s 3-pointer and an offensive putback by the Denver center came on either side of a 3-pointer by Murray as the Nuggets retook the lead for good.
Memphis continued to be thin on the frontline with center Steven Adams and reserve forward Brandon Clarke out with injuries for the bulk of the season, and potential starter Santi Aldama nursing a sprained ankle. The offensive punch was also limited by Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension to start the season.
Both teams started poorly. By the midway point of the first quarter, they were a combined 5 of 24 from the field and had missed all 10 3-pointers taken to that point in the game.
The shooting improved and Denver held a 61-56 lead at halftime.
The Grizzlies spent much of the night scrambling to stay in the game, keeping the deficit in single digits.
At the midway point of the fourth, a steal and layup by Derrick Rose brought Memphis within 95-93. The Grizzlies overtook the Nuggets on Rose’s leaner in the lane for a 98-97 lead with 4:28 left.
NUGGETS: At Oklahoma City on Sunday
GRIZZLIES: At Washington to face the Wizards on Saturday.
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