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NBA: Nikola Jokic’s monster triple-double powers Nuggets past Hornets

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Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets looks on during an NBA game at Pepsi Center on December 10, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images/AFP

Nikola Jokic set a career-high with 27 rebounds — including a franchise record 20 in the first half — along with 40 points and 10 assists for his fifth triple-double of the season, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Charlotte Hornets 119-115 on Sunday night.

The 20 rebounds in one half are tied for the second most in NBA history going back to 1996-97. Kevin Love holds the record with 22 in a half.

The only other player in NBA history to have at least 37 points, 27 rebounds and 10 assists in a single game was Wilt Chamberlain.

Aaron Gordon finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 20 points, Bruce Brown added 16 and Jamal Murray added 11 assists for Denver.

LaMelo Ball scored 31 points, Gordon Hayward had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 16 points, Jalen McDaniels had 14, Mason Plumlee and Nick Richards had 11 apiece and P.J. Washington scored 10 for Charlotte, which has lost eight straight.

The Hornets led by as many as 12 in the second quarter, but Denver finished the first half on a 17-4 run to take a 55-52 lead into intermission.

The lead grew to 11 early in the third. Charlotte got within nine, but a 3-pointer by Gordon made it 80-64 with 5:15 left, and the Nuggets took a 94-80 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Hornets made a push to start the final period, as Richards had two dunks to pull Charlotte within 97-90. Jokic hit a 3-pointer, but the Hornets scored five straight to get within five.

Two free throws and another 3-pointer by Jokic made it 105-97, but Plumlee hit two free throws and fed Oubre for a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to three. Washington missed a 3-pointer that would have tied it with 2:42 left, and Gordon made a reverse layup and Jokic a sunk hook shot to make it 111-104 with 1:57 remaining.

Charlotte got within two on Washington’s dunk with 13.5 seconds left but Jokic sealed it with two free throws.

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