The Denver Nuggets once again showed they belong among the elite in the NBA ‘s Western Conference, going on a late run to seal a 109-98 home victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder .
The surprising Nuggets, who currently lead the West standings with a record of 19-9 after Friday night’s win at the Pepsi Center in Denver, nearly got a triple-double from multi-talented Serbian big man Nikola Jokic (24 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists).
Despite battling a shin contusion, point guard Jamal Murray added 19 points and nine rebounds for the Nuggets.
Denver saw an 11-point fourth-quarter lead shrink to just three with 3:20 remaining when a driving layup by Thunder forward Paul George made the score 99-96.
But the Nuggets went on a 10-2 run the rest of the way, with Murray scoring four points over that decisive stretch.
Tempers flared in the final minute of the game, with Thunder superstar point guard Russell Westbrook shoving Murray during a jump-ball situation and then getting into a shouting match with several Nuggets players.
The Thunder (17-10) got big contributions from their starters, who outscored their Nuggets counterparts 84-80.
George led all scorers with 32 points, center Steven Adams finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds and Westbrook scored 13 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and handed out eight assists for Oklahoma City.
But Denver’s bench players combined for 29 points, compared to the Thunder reserves’ tally of just 14.