Nuggets continue playoff chase with win
Nuggets continue playoff chase with win
- Nuggets continue playoff chase with win
Published On: Sat, Apr 08
Jan 2, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Chase Budinger (10) runs onto the floor in between the Indiana pacemates to warm up before the game against the Detroit Pistons at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
DENVER -- In a must-win game, Denver's young backcourt delivered a big performance to keep the Nuggets' playoff hopes alive.
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Jamal Murray scored 22 of his career-high 30 points in the second half, Gary Harris had 20 points and a career-high nine assists to lead Denver to a 122-106 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.
Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets (38-41), who moved within one game of Portland for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Both teams have three games left. The Trail Blazers, who are at home for the rest of the season, hold the tiebreaker against the Nuggets.
"We're still alive and we're going to fight and fight and fight until they tell us to go home," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "It's funny, we lose a game in Charlotte and everybody is ready to say we're done. We're not done."
Anthony Davis had 25 points in limited minutes and Jordan Crawford 20 for New Orleans, which played without DeMarcus Cousins.
It was Denver's second win in four days over New Orleans (33-46) and avenged a 25-point home loss to the Pelicans on March 26. The Nuggets had a much different performance Friday than 12 days earlier.
Denver likely needs to win out, starting with Sunday's final home game against Oklahoma City. The Nuggets finish the season on the road at Dallas on Tuesday and the Thunder on Wednesday.
"I just feel like if we win out and just take care of ourselves, that's all we can do," Harris said. "Just control what we can control and try to win out."
Cousins rested his sore right Achilles and Davis played 24 minutes, 12 less than his season average. He came out with 4:28 left in the third quarter and sat the rest of the game. He said his surgically-repaired left knee was sore but it wasn't an issue.
"I felt fine. I don't know if it was cold in the arena all night but I never really got loose," Davis said. "Minutes were fine and I felt fine."
Coach Alvin Gentry wanted to be conservative with Davis' minutes Friday and said he would probably not play Davis in Golden State on Saturday.
"It'll be really how he's feeling," Gentry said. "If he wants to play we'll do that. I have a feeling he wants to play because that's who he is. I'm not going to play Anthony 35, 40 minutes in these games, but he does want to play and he does want to be on the floor."
The Nuggets want to keep playing beyond the regular season, and Murray and Harris stepped up with Jameer Nelson and Will Barton out with injuries. Murray and Harris, whose combined ages are 42, attacked the rim when they weren't hitting 3-pointers.
"The whole team was getting to the rim and attacking," Murray said. "That's where we lived today."
After blowing an 11-point lead in the first half, the Nuggets outscored the Pelicans 41-24 in the third quarter and led by as many as 20 in the quarter.
New Orleans tried to chip away at the lead, but Murray put it away with a driving dunk and a putback slam early in the fourth quarter to give Denver a 101-81 lead.
"I can do that all the time, I just shoot a lot," Murray said.
With Cousins out, Davis on the bench and Jrue Holiday playing just 25 minutes, the Pelicans looked at some of their younger players. Cheick Diallo played 12 minutes and Quinn Cook played a career-high 24. Denver took advantage of the rookies to build a 25-point lead and empty its bench in the last few minutes of the game.
"It's a learning thing for some of our guys that we're looking at," Gentry said.
NOTES: Pelicans G E'Twaun Moore sprained an ankle in the third quarter and did not return. ... Friday was the fifth straight game that Nuggets G Will Barton missed with left foot soreness. G Jameer Nelson missed his third game in the last four with a right calf strain. ... New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said he wouldn't play DeMarcus Cousins in future games if his right Achilles is still bothering him. "It's not worth taking the risk," he said.
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