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Jokic carries short-handed Nuggets past Hornets 119-105

Nikola Jokic recorded his 20th triple-double of the season on Saturday night.
Credit: AP
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) takes in a pass as Charlotte Hornets center Mark Williams (5) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nikola Jokic had 30 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his league-leading 20th triple-double and the short-handed Denver Nuggets handed the Charlotte Hornets their seventh straight defeat, 119-105 on Saturday night.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 15 points and Bruce Brown and Michael Porter Jr. each had 14 for the Nuggets, who snapped a string of four straight road losses.

Denver played without Aaron Gordon (rib contusion) and Jamaal Murray (knee inflammation), but outscored the Hornets 62-45 in the second half.

P.J. Washington had 22 points and Gordon Hayward added 21 for Charlotte. LaMelo Ball finished with 18 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. The Hornets endured another rough night from the foul line, converting just 17 of 29 attempts. Charlotte is 28 of 52 from the stripe in its last two home games.

Jokic, the NBA's Most Valuable Player the last two seasons, made light work of Hornets rookie Mark Williams and third-year player Nick Richards, using his big body to post up on the low block to seemingly score at will with overpowering moves in the lane. When the Hornets doubled him, Jokic found open teammates.

This was his second big game this season against Charlotte.

Jokic had 40 points, 27 rebounds and 10 assists in Denver's 119-115 win in December.

The Hornets jumped out to a 26-12 first-quarter lead behind 13 points from Hayward, who was 6 of 7 from the field. Hayward, the team's highest-paid player, had only eclipsed 13 points in five of his previous 13 games, but had two dunks and a fall away jumper to get Charlotte started off the right foot.

But the Nuggets would cut the lead to three at halftime as the Hornets went 2 of 11 from the foul line before the break.

Denver (39-18) began to pull away in the third quarter behind Jokic, Caldwell-Pope and Porter, who combined for 26 points. Porter, who was held scoreless in the first half, knocked down a 3 with 2:11 left in third quarter to give the Nuggets a 14-point lead and the Hornets never threatened again.

The Hornets (15-43), who lost Friday night in Boston, appeared to wear down as the game went on.

Denver extended the lead to 20 with four minutes to play after Terry Rozier's turnover led to a breakaway layup by Brown.


Nuggets: Outrebounded the Hornets 51-37. ... Won despite shooting 5 of 23 from 3-point range.

Hornets: Shot just 8 of 32 from beyond the 3-point arc.


Nuggets: At Miami on Monday night.

Hornets: Host Atlanta on Monday night.


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