MIAMI: Inspired by their in-form centre Nikola Jokic, the Denver Nuggets took over at the top of the Western Conference, after knocking the Memphis Grizzlies off their perch with a convincing 105-91 win on Tuesday.
Jokic produced his sixth triple double of the season with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists, as Denver handed Memphis their second straight defeat after a seven-game winning run.
Ja Morant starred for Memphis with 35 points and 10 assists but Denver’s scoring was spread throughout the team — Aaron Gordon top-scored with 24 points but all the starters reached double figures.
The Nuggets led 55-40 at half-time with their defence not allowing the Grizzlies any time or space.
Jokic’s passing was superb at times but the Serb was pleased with the way they limited the Grizzlies offence.
“Our defence was amazing, we were aggressive from the start, we had a bit of luck in the third quarter but generally the whole game we had a really good defensive night,” said Jokic.
“I think that is the key for us to go deep in the playoffs,” he added. The two teams are tied at the top of the West with 19-11 records.
The New York Knicks extended their winning streak to eight games as they continued their push towards a play-off spot with an emphatic 132-94 win over the defending NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors. The Knicks were never behind in the game after opening up an 8-0 lead and ran away with the game in the second half.
Immanuel Quickley scored 22 points and Jalen Brunson 21, with Quentin Grimes (19) and RJ Barrett (18) also making big contributions.
Golden State have won just three games on the road this season and coach Steve Kerr said they have yet to find their edge.
“You win the championship and there’s just a natural human nature drop-off,” Kerr said. “You’re just not on edge. Combine that with other factors — injuries and stuff — it’s just we haven’t gotten there yet.”
Nikola Vucevic put up 29 points and DeMar DeRozan 24 points as the Chicago Bulls beat an under-strength Miami Heat 113-103 to end a four-game losing run.
The Heat, who had won their previous four outings, were without Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin and, although Bam Adebayo stepped up scoring 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, they were blown away in the third quarter.
The Bulls (12-18) went on a 30-7 run in the third and were never in danger of losing from then on as the Heat slipped to a 16-16 record.
The Utah Jazz beat the struggling Detroit Pistons 126-111, with Lauri Markkanen scoring 38 points and a career-high nine 3-pointers.
With Jarred Vanderbilt adding 18 points and 13 rebounds, the Jazz improve to 18-16 in the West while the Pistons remain rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference with just eight wins from 33 games.
The Washington Wizards beat the Phoenix Suns 113-110, with Kyle Kuzma’s 29 points helping end their 10-game losing run.