(Colo.)- Nuggets Beat Trail Blazers 88-82 For 6th Straight Win
DENVER (AP) - Nikola Jokic posted his 10th triple-double of the season and the Denver Nuggets kept their playoff hopes alive by rallying past the Portland Trail Blazers 88-82 on Monday night.
The Nuggets have won a season-high six straight games and a seventh, on Wednesday night in Minnesota, would clinch their first playoff berth since 2012-13.
Jokic scored 15 points and pulled down a season-best 20 rebounds and had 11 assists. Will Barton added 22 points, leading a comeback from an 11-point third-quarter deficit.
The Trail Blazers, who lost for the fourth consecutive time, were in it until the very end, but Jusuf Nurkic, who had 20 points and 19 rebounds, missed one of two free throws with 47 seconds left and Jamaal Murray sank two free throws with 30 seconds left to put Denver ahead 84-80.
Daman Lillard, who led the Trail Blazers with 25 points, missed a 15-footer and Paul Millsap grabbed the rebound.
The Trail Blazers, who hold the inside track for securing the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs, blew an 11-point third-quarter lead.
Jokic posted his 16th career triple-double when he fed Devin Harris for a 3-pointer that put the Nuggets ahead 73-71 with eight minutes left, their first lead of the second half.
They didn't trail again.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone was concerned about Portland's offensive rebounding going into the showdown, which came exactly one year after Russell Westbrook's buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave Oklahoma City a 106-105 win at Denver that eliminated the Nuggets from last year's playoff party.
"They're one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the league and one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the league," Malone said about two hours before tip-off. "And that's what scares me: when the shot goes up, can we have a physical, hit-first mentality and not allow them to dominate the glass? And that's been an issue for us as of late."
It was an issue again Monday night as Portland scored 25 second-chance points but it was the Nuggets who came up with the big plays down the stretch.
Gary Harris, the Nuggets' second-leading scorer, played for the first time since spraining his right knee on March 15 and he promptly swished a jump shot during Denver's 28-23 first quarter. He finished with 12 points, including two big free throws with 20 seconds left.
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