DENVER (The Sports Xchange) – Wilson Chandler scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 10 rebounds in his return to the lineup, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Boston Celtics 119-99 on Friday night.

Jokic missed two games with the flu but looked fresh against Boston, finishing three assists shy of his fifth triple-double. Danilo Gallinari scored 20 after missing Wednesday’s game with vertigo.

The Nuggets hold a slim lead for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. Portland has won four straight and now trails Denver (30-35) by just a game with 17 left. The Trail Blazers have 19 games remaining.

Isaiah Thomas scored 21 points and Avery Bradley had 16 for Boston (41-25).

The Celtics head home after a 2-3 road trip that tightened the race for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Washington, which played a late game in Sacramento, came into Friday a game behind Boston but tied in the loss column.

Boston allowed 92 points by the start of the fourth quarter two nights after holding Golden State, the highest-scoring team in the league, to a season-low 86 points. The Nuggets shot 52.9 percent and answered every Celtics charge.

Twice Boston got the deficit to eight in the third quarter but Denver quickly got it back to 15 points.

Jaylen Brown’s three-point play early in the fourth got the Celtics within 96-87 but Will Barton and Gallinari hit 3-pointers to make it 102-87.

The Nuggets led by as many as 20 in the first half and were up 11 at intermission.

NOTES: Nuggets F Kenneth Faried sat out for the seventh straight game with spasms in his lower back. There has been no timetable for his return. … Celtics F James Young (sore low back) missed his second straight game. … Washington F Markieff Morris was fined $25,000 by the league for his kick to Mason Plumlee’s groin late in the Wizards’ win Wednesday. … Nuggets G Emmanuel Mudiay, who had 24 points in the first quarter of Denver’s win in Boston on Nov. 6, was dressed but didn’t play Friday.


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