Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic: MVP candidate leads Denver Nuggets past resilient Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies have proven to be one of the deepest teams in the league this season.

With five players averaging double-digit points and another three averaging nine points or above for the season, the collective depth along with their fight and the coaching of Taylor Jenkins has helped them overcome an injury to key big man Jaren Jackson Jr. and a 12-day absence from games due to postponements to finish 16-16 at the All-Star break.

Against the visiting Nuggets, their second game of a league-leading 40-game second-half schedule, the Grizzlies did more of the same - Fight.

Denver led by as many as 12 but no team was able to run away with the game, one that saw 15 lead changes and seven ties. The contest eventually came down to the final seconds where the MVP candidate Nikola Jokic took over.

He scored the Nuggets' final five points and came with the big defensive play on the Grizzlies' final possession that sealed the game.

He finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals on 13-of-22 shooting from the field. He received help from starters Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton, who combined for 42 points with 21 each on a combined of 16-of-27 shooting from the field.

The performance of the trio helped the Nuggets overcome one of Jamal Murray's roughest shooting games as he went 1-of-14 from the field for just three points.

"It's just been flowing lately. We've just been also playing as a team. Not been selfish," Porter Jr. said postgame as the Nuggets won their fifth straight. "We're starting to learn each other's games. We're starting to learn where each other likes it."

With this victory, Denver improve to 22-15 - holding a 0.5 game lead for the fifth seed in the West.

For the Grizzlies, five players scored in double figures led by 20 apiece from Brandon Clarke and Dillon Brooks.

Reigning Rookie of the Year Ja Morant finished with 16 points and nine assists as Memphis overcame 17 turnovers, five more than the visitors, and the Nuggets 23 fastbreak points, compared to their seven, but couldn't ice it late.

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