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The Nuggets erased a 19-point deficit against the Thunder for a stunning comeback victory on Friday at Ball Arena.
Denver trailed the entire game until 1 minute and 21 seconds were left on the clock when Nikola Jokic finally put his team ahead, 90-89, with a floater in the lane. Will Barton added a 3-pointer on Denver’s next possession for insurance, and after the teams exchanged last-second free throws, the Nuggets emerged on top, 97-95.
The team’s second-consecutive victory keeps momentum rolling at 14-11 after the Denver had previously dropped three straight games. Up next is the final matchup of a four-game homestand as the defending NBA champion Lakers visit Ball Arena on Sunday night.
Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray and Jokic led all players with 22 points apiece. Denver managed to win the game despite 13 turnovers and shooting 10-of-40 from 3-point range as a team.
The Nuggets were once without injured guards Gary Harris (thigh) and PJ Dozier (knee). Harris has now missed five consecutive games while Dozier’s absence tally is eight. Malone was unable to provide a specific timetable for either player’s return, but told reporters Friday before the game that he is hopeful both Harris and Dozier with return at some point during the team’s upcoming four-game road trip — at the Celtics (Tuesday), Wizards (Wednesday), Hornets (Friday) and Hawks (Sunday).
“With these types of injuries, I haven’t been expecting Gary or PJ to be back anytime soon,” Malone said. “The main way we figure this out is just constant communication between (Nuggets director of sports medicine) Steve Short and myself. We talk every day. He follows up with emails and text messages. How is each guy improving? What is their timeframe? And, a lot of times, that timeline can change depending upon bumps in the road in somebody’s rehab and recovery.”
Injuries were no excuse on Friday, though, with Oklahoma City also shuffling its lineup due to health issues. A pair of Thunder starters — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (knee) and George Hill (thumb) — did not play.
The Nuggets were sluggish from the start on Friday, trailing 28-16 after the first quarter, with Denver shooting 38% from the floor (2-of-12 from 3-point range) with six turnovers. Oklahoma City’s lead grew to 19 points in the second quarter, but with a scoring surge from Jokic, Denver cut the deficit to 53-40 entering halftime.
This story will be updated.