Nikola Jokic had 35 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots to help the Denver Nuggets recover from an 18-point, fourth-quarter deficit and post a crucial 128-125 overtime victory over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night at the Pepsi Center.
Jamal Murray recorded 27 points and seven assists, and Paul Millsap contributed 26 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for Denver (42-35). Will Barton had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who moved within one game of the eighth-place New Orleans Pelicans (43-34) for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Jabari Parker scored a season-best 35 points on 14-of-23 shooting and collected 10 rebounds while Eric Bledsoe had 31 points and six assists for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, Khris Middleton added 15 points and nine rebounds, and Tyler Zeller also scored 15 points for the Bucks.
Despite the collapse, Milwaukee (41-36) is tied with the Miami Heat for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The ninth-place Detroit Pistons are four games back with five games remaining.
Denver emerged out of seemingly nowhere to force overtime. The Nuggets scored eight points in the final 58 seconds of regulation, the last three coming after Murray stole the ball and was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds to go. He made all three free throws to tie the score at 111.
Denver led by seven on three occasions in the overtime, but Parker’s 3-pointer pulled the Bucks within 125-121 with 29.8 seconds left. Two layups by Bledsoe allowed Milwaukee to trim its deficit to 126-125 with 7.8 seconds left.
Denver’s Malik Beasley sank two free throws to make it a three-point margin with 7.1 seconds left, but Parker missed a 3-point attempt and the Nuggets prevailed.
The Bucks trailed by nine points at halftime before outscoring Denver 38-16 in the third quarter.
Milwaukee began the second half with a 13-2 push, and Bledsoe’s 3-pointer gave the Bucks a 67-65 lead with 7:31 left in the third quarter. Another 13-2 run later in the period -- capped by Bledsoe’s 2-point hoop -- provided Milwaukee with an 82-72 edge with 3:25 remaining.
Bledsoe’s 11-footer made it 88-74 with 1:40 left before the Bucks took a 13-point lead into the final stanza.
A basket by Antetokounmpo gave Milwaukee a 102-84 lead with 7:34 remaining. The Bucks led by 17 before Denver used a 12-2 run to pull within 107-100 with 3:26 left.
A three-point play by Murray and a floater by Jokic pulled the Nuggets within 111-108 with 30.6 seconds to play.
Denver trailed by 14 in the opening minute of the second quarter before erupting on a 30-5 surge to take a 52-41 advantage. The Nuggets took a 63-54 lead into the break.
--Field Level Media