Conference leaders clash as Nuggets top Bucks 129-106
DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 31 points and 11 assists, Jamal Murray finished with 26 points and nine assists, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 129-106 on Saturday night in a late-season showdown of the NBA’s conference leaders.
Michael Porter Jr. scored 19 points for West-leading Denver (50-24), which outscored East-leading Milwaukee 68-40 in the second half.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points -- just seven in the second half -- and grabbed nine rebounds for the Bucks (53-20).
The battle of the top teams in each conference -- and two strong MVP candidates -- was more competitive than the teams’ first meeting, won by the Bucks 107-99.
SUNS 125, 76ERS 105
PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker scored 29 points, Bismack Biyombo added 17 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, and the Phoenix Suns snapped a three-game losing streak.
Phoenix got good minutes from most of their bench players, particularly Terrence Ross and T.J. Warren. Warren finished with 16 points, while Ross had 15. Booker shot 9 of 18 from the field and hit all nine of his free throws.
The Suns won despite a huge game from Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey, who finished with 37 points on 14-of-19 shooting, including 7 of 11 from 3-point range. Joel Embiid added 28 points and 10 rebounds.
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KINGS 121, JAZZ 113
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Huerter scored 27 points, had seven rebounds and four assists and Sacramento beat Utah.
Domantas Sabonis finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists for his NBA-leading 60th double-double of the season. Harrison Barnes added 18 points. Keegan Murray scored 14 of his 22 total points in the first quarter and knocked down six three-pointers for the Kings.
Jazz rookie Walker Kessler scored a career-high 31 points for the Jazz. Kessler added 11 rebounds and finished 14 of 16 from the floor. Kelly Olynyk finished with 17 points and 10 assists, Ochai Agbaji scored 20 and Jarrell Brantley added 13 off the bench for Utah.
NETS 129, HEAT 100
MIAMI (AP) — Mikal Bridges scored 27 points, and the Brooklyn Nets opened the third quarter on a 31-6 run on the way to rolling past Miami and leapfrogging the Heat back into the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference.
Cam Johnson added 23 points and Spencer Dinwiddie scored 15 for the Nets (40-34), who snapped a five-game slide. They’re only a half-game up on Miami (40-35) in the race for the sixth and final guaranteed playoff berth, but swept the Heat 3-0 this season and would also own a head-to-head tiebreaker.
Max Strus scored 23 for the Heat, all of them in the first half. Tyler Herro scored 23, Jimmy Butler had 18 and Bam Adebayo finished with 16 for the Heat. Miami was outscored 64-31 after halftime.
HAWKS 143, PACERS 130
ATLANTA (AP) — John Collins led eight Atlanta scorers in double figures with 21 points and the Hawks overcame Jordan Nwora’s season-high 33 points and protected their shaky hold on the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff standings
Trae Young was ejected in the third quarter after firing an unusually hard pass to referee Scott Wall during a timeout. Wall caught the ball. Young was immediately called for a technical foul and ejected. Young had 14 points and five assists. Dejounte Murray had 20 points in his return after missing two games with a non-COVID illness. Saddiq Bey led Atlanta’s bench with 18 points.
Tyrese Haliburton scored 19 points and Buddy Hield had 16 for Indiana.
PELICANS 131, CLIPPERS 110
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Trey Murphy III scored 32 points, Brandon Ingram had 32 points and 13 assists, and the New Orleans Pelicans never trailed against the Los Angeles Clippers.
C.J. McCollum had 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Pelicans, who have won four in a row.
Bones Hyland scored 18 points and Kawhi Leonard added 12 points and six rebounds for the Clippers, who have lost three of four.
At risk of falling out of the play-in tournament with a loss, the energized Pelicans started out hot, scoring the first eight points, and never let up.
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