DENVER (AP) — Even though Nikola Jokic loves to pass, his teammates wanted to see him get selfish. After some prodding, the young center obliged, then delivered a career night.
Jokic had a career-high 41 points, Will Barton and Paul Millsap scored 17 apiece and the Denver Nuggets beat the Brooklyn Nets 112-104 on Tuesday night.
Jokic also had 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. He is the ninth player in NBA history to have those totals to go with 41 points and at least four 3-pointers.
He left the game early in the fourth still shy of his career high of 40 points set Feb. 10 against New York but returned late in the fourth. He scored two quick buckets and then fouled out, but only after his teammates gently encouraged him to shoot.
“If you pass the ball, the ball will find you at some point,” Jokic said. “You don’t need to be selfish. When you have the open shot, just take it.”
The Nets starters couldn’t match Jokic’s output. The five combined for 40 points and watched from the bench as Jokic outscored them with his four points late in the game.
“He went out there and put on a show,” Barton said. “When a guy’s rolling like that, you want to see him keep it going and get as many points as possible.”
Tyler Zeller came off the bench to lead Brooklyn with a season-high 21 points. Only three Nets were in double figures. D’Angelo Russell had 12 points a night after scoring 23, and Timofey Mozgov scored 11.
“I don’t think we had the requisite juice. The execution wasn’t good,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “It was like we were walking in mud in everything we did.”
Jokic scored in bunches, and each time he helped Denver extend leads. He had 11 points in the second when the Nuggets led by 13, and he scored 14 more in the third to help push the lead to 86-61.
Brooklyn went on a 13-4 run in the final 2:59 to make it a closer game.
The Nets committed a season-high 25 turnovers, which led to 27 points for Denver. They had just 16 turnovers in the win over Phoenix on Monday night.
“Turnovers were such a big issue tonight and then we came out a little lackadaisical and no energy,” DeMarre Carroll said. “I thought our defense was pretty good but we kept turning it over and they got easy offense.”
Nuggets guard Gary Harris was the most disruptive. He had a career-high six steals against Brooklyn.
“That’s what Gary does,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “He is a guy that can be physical and get to you and blow up the offense, and he did that tonight.”
Nets: F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was out with a right hip contusion suffered in Monday’s win at Phoenix, and F Trevor Booker missed his third straight game with a sore lower back. Atkinson said Hollis-Jefferson will be evaluated Wednesday.
Nuggets: Barton tied a season high with eight rebounds. … The Nuggets have used the same starting lineup for all 11 games this season. … Denver has won three straight against Brooklyn. … The Nuggets have two games left on their season-long six-game homestand.
Nets: Continue their five-game trip at Portland on Friday night.
Nuggets: Welcome former Denver star Carmelo Anthony when Oklahoma City visits Thursday night.
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