Jamal Murray scored 33 points, Nikola Jokic scored 18 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, and host Denver Nuggets beat the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night with a strong third quarter.
Upon his return to Denver’s lineup, Paul Millsap had 15 points and 12 assists, which defeated the Magic for the eighth straight time.
There were 20 points from Nikola Vucevic, D.J. Augustin scored 18 off the bench, Evan Fournier scored 13, and Markelle Fultz ended 10 in the second half for Orlando, 68-44.
The Magic closed the powerful first half, taking a 17-point lead on an 18-3 surge. Orlando settled down at intermission for a 60-45 lead, then was up 69-50 early in the third quarter on Fournier’s 26-foot step-back3-pointer.
The Nuggets woke up after that. The Magic missed 11 consecutive shots while Denver scored 24 straight points to go from 19 down to five ahead.
With three baskets and a free throw to reduce the deficit to 12, Millsap hit a short jumper, and Will Barton had a steal and a dunk. Orlando missed three more attempts, Millsap sunk two more free throws, and Magic coach Steve Clifford used a tactic that led to another foul shot. Jokic made a 3-pointer corner on an offensive rebound and the3-pointer from Jerami Grant gave Denver a 70-69.
Mo Bamba ended a scoreless Magic drought of almost six minutes with a dunk but Murray replied with a dunk and the lead of the Nuggets grew to 11 before Augustine made three free throws in the final second of the third to make it 84-76 in the fourth.
The lead was still eight halfway through the fourth, but Orlando scored six straight points for the remaining 4:30 in 98-96. Murray made a 13-footer, and Murray hit one from a long range after Vucevic missed a 3-pointer that would have cut it to one.
Another Vucevic miss led Jokic to make it 106-96 with a3-pointer, and Denver was able to close it out.