By PAT GRAHAM – AP Sportswriter
DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic scored 30 of his 46 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and the Denver Nuggets rebounded after wasting an early 21-point lead to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 138-130 on Sunday night to beat.
Jokic hit two free throws to level it with 3.2s left in regulation, then sealed it in OT with a 3-pointer with 1:30 left. His big night resulted in an unlikely win that saw coach Michael Malone sacked late in the third quarter, the team disbanding completely and gradually regrouping.
Jokic, the reigning NBA MVP, also had 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his 17th triple-double of the season, leading the league.
Brandon Ingram had 38 points for New Orleans. The Pelicans had won four times in a row.
Denver almost won the tournament after a steal from Jokic, but Jeff Green’s shot at the last second was just wide. In overtime, Jokic had seven points while Monte Morris got into the clutch with a 3-pointer.
To think about it, the Nuggets led 34-13 in the opening quarter with 1:27 to go. The Pelicans methodically worked their way back into the game, climbing to five by halftime thanks to a half-court buzzer beater from Ingram. The Pelicans took the lead midway through the third game with a Herbert Jones dunk.
People also read…
Denver lost his cool late in the third when Malone caught a technical in a game that eluded him and broke out to earn another. The team was also called out due to a technical delay. That, coupled with a 3-pointer from Devonte Graham, turned a four-point lead in New Orleans into a double-digit cushion.
Emotions outweighed the Nuggets, who caught four individual technical fouls — DeMarcus Cousins and Bryn Forbes also had one — along with the “T” delay.
Aaron Gordon had 28 points for Denver.
Ingram had the shot of the night. He grabbed a loose ball on his side of midfield with two nuggets surrounding him. Just before the halftime buzzer sounded, he calmly threw the 45-footer toward the basket and emptied to reduce the deficit to five. His teammates raced off the bench to cheer. Green watched the replay on the big screen, hands on hips.
The Pelicans had won their last four games by a 26.8 point average, which certainly caught Malone’s attention. He made sure his team knew the teams beating the Pelicans well, and on the fringes — in Phoenix, 117-102; at the Los Angeles Lakers, 123-95; Sacramento, 125-95; and Utah, 124-90.
“Your defense is outstanding,” Malone said. “They get a lot of offense from their defense.”
Jones averaged 9.4 points this season. But in his first three games against the Nuggets, he averaged 21 points, including 25 in a 113-105 in Denver on Feb. 4.
“That was just Herbert Jones’ highlight show in transition,” Malone said. “We must try to slow him down.”
Pelicans: G CJ McCollum drew a technical draw in the first quarter. He appeared upset shortly before after a call with no goalie on the other end. McCollum finished with 24.
Nuggets: Morris had 18 points. … After shooting 70% in the first quarter, the Nuggets finished at 54%. They were 10 out of 33 from the 3 point range.
Pelicans: In Memphis on Tuesday night.
Nuggets: Host Golden State on Monday night.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.