DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season, Gary Harris added 21 points and the Denver Nuggets cruised to a 130-104 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
Denver led by as many as 36 points while staying in the thick of the playoff chase. The Nuggets now enter a difficult stretch in their schedule — eight of their next nine games are on the road.
Led by Harris, the Nuggets turned up the tempo in the second quarter to pull away. Denver was in such control that most of its starters got the fourth quarter off.
Buddy Hield scored 18 points, while former Nuggets player Kosta Koufos chipped in 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who play Monday night in Oklahoma City.
Everything went smoothly for the Nuggets before Paul Millsap and Jokic were dinged up in a collision midway through the third quarter. Millsap’s head banged into the chin of Jokic when they were covering Zach Randolph. Both Millsap and Jokic were rubbing their wounds and the Nuggets called a quick timeout. They remained in the game.
It was Jokic’s 13th career triple-double.
Kings: F Skal Labissiere missed the game with a bruised left hip. … C Willie Cauley-Stein and G De’Aaron Fox returned to the lineup after missing time with back ailments. Both Cauley-Stein and Fox scored 12 points.
Nuggets: F Juancho Hernangomez was inactive with F Wilson Chandler back on the court after missing a game with hip soreness. Chandler had 16 points. … The Nuggets had a season-high 26 turnovers in a loss at Sacramento on Jan. 6. This time, Denver turned the ball over just seven times. … The Nuggets had 62 points in the paint. … G Jamal Murray added 20 points and five assists.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone spoke with Murray after the point guard got under the skin of Los Angeles coach Luke Walton and the Lakers with his late-game trash talk in a 125-116 win Friday.
“Jamal plays with emotion,” Malone said. “I didn’t have any issues with Jamal’s play or antics out there.”
An already early afternoon tip was made even earlier due to daylight savings time. Not that either coach was particularly concerned.
“It’s more for us about being mentally locked in,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “Get a routine after breakfast.”
Malone said: “3 p.m., 7 p.m. — for me, none of that really matters.”
Kings: Finish a two-game trip at the Thunder on Monday. The Kings are 4-9 on the second night of a back-to-back this season.
Nuggets: At the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. It could be testy, given Murray’s verbal sparring coming three months after he dribbled around Lonzo Ball in the waning seconds of a win in December.
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