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Nikola Jokic’s return helps Denver Nuggets end skid


REIGNING league MVP Nikola Jokic returned from a four-game injury absence to account for 24 points, a game-high 15 rebounds and a team-high seven assists as the Denver Nuggets defeated the host Miami Heat (120-111) on Monday night.

Denver shot 58.1% from the floor, including 18-for-35 on 3-pointers (51.4%).

Jokic, who had been out with a sprained right wrist, made 9 of 14 shots from the floor and 5 of 6 on free throws as Denver snapped a season-worst six-game losing streak.

Aaron Gordon added 20 points for the Nuggets (10-10), who improved to 3-6 on the road. Bones Hyland came in off the bench and scored 19 points on 5-for-8 3-point shooting.

This was the first game played between these teams since the host Nuggets beat Miami on Nov. 8. Jokic and Miami’s Markieff Morris were involved in a skirmish in that game. Morris (neck injury) has yet to play as a result of that altercation, and Jokic was booed throughout Monday’s game.

Jonas Valanciunas scored a career-high 39 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead visiting New Orleans to a win over Los Angeles.

Valanciunas made all seven of his 3-point attempts in the first half before finishing 7-for-8 from long distance. Brandon Ingram added 27 points and Herbert Jones scored 16 for the Pelicans, who have won three of four for the first time this season.

Paul George scored 27 points, but he committed seven of Los Angeles’ 15 turnovers. Reggie Jackson added 19 points and Serge Ibaka scored a season-high 13 off the bench for the Clippers, who were coming off a 105-90 loss to the visiting Golden State Warriors on Sunday afternoon and have dropped five of seven overall.

Nikola Vucevic notched a double-double of 30 points and 14 rebounds and DeMar DeRozan had 28 points to lift host Chicago to a victory over Charlotte.

Shooting 59.6% for the night — including a 46.2% effort from long range — the Bulls led by as many as 23 points while sending the Hornets to their second straight defeat to open a four-game road trip.

Zach LaVine (25 points), Lonzo Ball (16 points, eight assists) and Alex Caruso (14 points) also helped the Bulls register a season high in points. Terry Rozier scored 31 points and LaMelo Ball had 18 points and 13 assists for the Hornets.

Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points and Rudy Gobert amassed 21 points and 16 rebounds to lead Utah to a victory over Portland in Salt Lake City.

Jordan Clarkson added 22 points, six rebounds and three assists off the bench as the Jazz won for the sixth time in eight outings.

Jusuf Nurkic tallied 24 points and 10 boards, Anfernee Simons scored 24 off the bench and CJ McCollum added 19 points for the Trail Blazers, who lost their third game in a row.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 32 points as Minnesota notched its seventh win in the past eight games, beating Indiana in Minneapolis.

Minnesota’s D’Angelo Russell made clutch plays while racking up 21 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Anthony Edwards added 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

The Pacers fell short despite getting 16 points, a career-high 25 rebounds and 10 assists from Domantas Sabonis.

Jarrett Allen scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead a balanced attack as Cleveland won at Dallas.

Lauri Markkanen had a season-high 24 points and eight rebounds while Darius Garland accounted for 18 points and nine assists for Cleveland, which won its second straight following a five-game losing streak.

Luka Doncic made a season-high seven 3-pointers and had 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Mavericks, who had won their previous six matchups with the Cavaliers.

Christian Wood scored 24 points and collected a career-high 21 rebounds to lead Houston past visiting Oklahoma City.

Garrison Mathews made five 3-pointers while scoring 19 points for the Rockets, who have won three straight contests following a 15-game losing streak. Kevin Porter, Jr. recorded his first career triple-double with 11 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and three steals.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 22 points for the Thunder, who have lost six straight games and eight of their past nine.

76ERS 101, MAGIC 96
Seth Curry scored 24 points, Tobias Harris added 17 and host Philadelphia held off Orlando.

Joel Embiid had 16 points and 13 rebounds in his second game back after a three-week absence with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Andre Drummond pulled down 12 rebounds. Tyrese Maxey also had nine points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Franz Wagner led the Magic with 27 points while Jalen Suggs added 17 before leaving late with an apparent thumb injury. Mo Bamba had 11 points, 17 rebounds and six blocked shots for the Magic, who lost their seventh straight game.

Derrick White had a season-high 24 points and Dejounte Murray added 22 points and 10 rebounds as San Antonio pulled away from visiting Washington.

Jakob Poeltl added 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Spurs ended their second straight win, the first time this season they have produced a winning streak.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 18 points and eight assists. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit for 17 points, and Spencer Dinwiddie scored 16. — Field Level Media

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