Nikola Jokic scored 31 points and dished out 11 assists, Jamal Murray finished with 26 points and nine assists, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 129-106 on Saturday night.
Michael Porter Jr. scored 19 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown had 11 points each for the Nuggets (50-24), who won the battle between the top teams in each conference.
Giannis Antetokounmpo matched Jokic with 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Khris Middleton, Grayson Allen and Brook Lopez scored 13 each, and Bobby Portis Jr. added 11 points for the Bucks (53-21).
Antetokounmpo was aggressive from the start, with 13 points in the first quarter and 24 at halftime. He missed just three of his 14 shots. He had five dunks and five layups in the first half.
Murray had four 3-pointers and 20 points, and Jokic scored 17 points at intermission for Denver, which trailed 66-63 at the break.
Allen made two free throws to stretch Milwaukee’s lead to 74-69 early in the third quarter but the Nuggets came on.
Jokic made his first 3-pointer of the night to put Denver in front by one. Porter hit a cutting layup, and a take foul and technical on Portis resulted in two free throws by the Nuggets. Brown then hit a corner 3-pointer to give Denver an 84-76 lead.
Two free throws from Jokic late in the third capped a 16-4 run that put the Nuggets ahead 90-80. Jeff Green hit a corner 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left to make it 97-85 heading into the fourth quarter.
Green’s dunk over Antetokounmpo and Zeke Nnaji’s layup pushed the lead to 15, and Brown’s 3-pointer to beat the shot clock gave Denver a 106-91 lead.
The Bucks went 4:10 without a point as the Nuggets built a 20-point lead. Antetokounmpo was hit with a technical foul with 6:41 left — Milwaukee’s fourth of the game — and went to the bench for the rest of the night with 5:54 remaining and Denver closed it out.