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NBA: Denver Nuggets Win Showdown With Minnesota Timberwolves Behind Nikola Jokic's 41 Points

The Nuggets parlayed the top seed last year into a 10-1 run at home in the playoffs on the way to their first NBA title

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets drives against Monte Morris #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first quarter at Ball Arena on April 10, 2024. Photo: File

Nikola Jokić scored 41 points on 16-of-20 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 116-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday to take a one-game lead in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference. (More Sports News)

Jamal Murray added 20 points in 27 minutes and Michael Porter Jr. had 18 points with eight rebounds for the Nuggets, who split the four-game season series with the Wolves. Denver needs to finish ahead of Minnesota and Oklahoma City to earn the No. 1 seed for the second straight season.

The Nuggets parlayed the top seed last year into a 10-1 run at home in the playoffs on the way to their first NBA title.

Anthony Edwards scored 25 points but was a non-factor in the fourth quarter and Mike Conley added 19 for Minnesota, which had won four of five.

Denver closed the third quarter on a 9-1 run to take an 83-80 lead into the fourth. The Nuggets’ second until extended the margin to 91-87 before Jokic and Murray returned with 7 ½ minutes left, and Denver used a 10-0 spurt to pull away.

Mavericks clinch Southwest Division

Luka Doncic scored 29 points and Kyrie Irving had 25 as the Dallas Mavericks secured the Southwest Division title with a 111-92 win over the Miami Heat.

Doncic fell just shy of his 22nd triple-double of the season with nine rebounds and nine assists.

Derrick Jones Jr, P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford each scored 12 points for the Mavericks, who will face the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. It will be the third opening-round matchup between those teams in the last four seasons.

Tyler Herro scored 21 points for Miami, which fell to 20-19 at home this season after going 24-17 on the road.

Portis leads Bucks without Antetokounmpo

Bobby Portis collected 30 points, nine rebounds and a career-high five steals and the Milwaukee Bucks overcame Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence for a 117-99 win over the Orlando Magic.

Damian Lillard had 29 points and eight assists and Pat Beverley had 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Bucks, who played a night after Antetokounmpo suffered a strained left calf that will sideline him the final three games of the regular season.

Milwaukee is 1 ½ games ahead of the Knicks and two in front of Cleveland in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Cole Anthony scored 23 points for Orlando, which has lost two straight andthree of four.