Jamal Murray scored 28 points, Nikola Jokic overcame an off day from the field by going 18 of 18 from the free throw line and the Denver Nuggets extended their winning streak to five games by holding off the Golden State Warriors 120-114 on Monday.
Jokic finished with 26 points despite going 4 of 12 from the floor. He set a career-high with his 18 made free throws. Jokic also had 14 rebounds and eight assists.
Last Christmas, the Nuggets big man erupted for 41 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists in an overtime win over Phoenix.
It was a back-and-forth game that featured nine lead changes in the second half. Denver took a lead for good on Jokic’s left-handed hook shot with 5:16 remaining.
Andrew Wiggins gave the Warriors a boost by scoring 22 points as he returned to the floor after missing two games with an illness. Stephen Curry took a bit to warm up, not scoring until midway through the second quarter, but heated up late to finish with 18 points.
Golden State played on Christmas for an 11th straight year.
The Warriors moved to 5-2 since the indefinite suspension of Draymond Green after striking Phoenix center Jusuf Nurkic in the face. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before the game that Green has mostly stayed away during his suspension. Kerr added that he has been in contact with the training staff and the coaches.
The combination of Kevon Looney and rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis took turns trying to frustrate Jokic, who didn’t have his customary touch around the basket. All five Denver starters scored in double figures, with Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon both posting double-doubles
Denver coach Michael Malone showed up for his pregame media interview wearing a Nuggets-themed Christmas sweater. Being the son of a longtime NBA coach, Malone said some of his fondest memories were going to games on Dec. 25, particularly when his father was an assistant coach for the New York Knicks.
“No present under that tree would even match going to the Garden to watch Michael Jordan,” Malone said. “Every time he stepped foot in that arena, it was just magical.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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