Barton leads Nuggets to OT win over Pelicans
DENVER — Will Barton missed a chance to give the Denver Nuggets a win five days ago, but he atoned for it with a dominant overtime performance against New Orleans.
Barton scored 11 of his 19 points in the extra time in his return to the lineup and the Nuggets rallied from 18 points down to beat the Pelicans 117-111 on Friday night.
Gary Harris had 21 points, Trey Lyles scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and Nikola Jokic had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets (16-13) in his first game back after missing seven with a sprained left ankle.
Jokic said he was thinking about the ankle during his 22 minutes on the court but feels good overall.
“It felt a little sore. I could run, I did a lot of stuff I normally do,” he said. “Just a couple of motions, couple of weird moments I kind of felt it but that’s not a big deal. That’s a normal thing.”
DeMarcus Cousins scored 29 points, Anthony Davis had 28 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, and Jrue Holiday scored 25 points for the Pelicans (15-15).
Davis played the last 3:33 of regulation and all of overtime despite rolling his left ankle. He had a slight limp the rest of the game but scored eight points.
“I just wanted to play,” said Davis, who added that the ankle was fine.
Jokic received an ovation when he checked into the game with 5:32 left in the first quarter but sat most of the fourth quarter and overtime. Barton picked up the slack after missing Wednesday’s game with a back injury.
“Will Barton’s a gamer. In the first half, you could tell his back was bothering him,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “You could tell it wasn’t him. As that second half went on, he loosened up and got his swag back. And in overtime he brought it home.”
It was a different feeling from Sunday when Barton missed a 19-footer against Indiana that would have given Denver a win in regulation. The Pacers dominated overtime to beat the Nuggets.
“I didn’t close that game,” Barton said. “I had the ball in my hands to win that game and I didn’t come through, and I took that personally.”
On Friday, Barton carried Denver to a win.
Davis gave the Pelicans the lead to start overtime and then Barton took over. He hit a 3-pointer, a floater in the lane and a fast-break dunk to give Denver a 111-108 lead with 1:33 left.
Davis’ layup made it a one-point game, but another 3-pointer from Barton made it 114-110. Jamal Murray hit two free throws and Cousins was fouled on a 3-point attempt. He split the first two and intentionally missed the third foul shot, but Denver got possession and closed it out.
Barton called it a big win and relished the chance to carry his team down the stretch.
“I take a lot of pride in being a closer for this team,” he said. “My teammates trust me, the coaching staff does. To be able to do that, to have that trust in me, means the world.”
The Nuggets rallied from 16 down in the second half to take the lead with a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter. The Pelicans got a scare when Davis stepped on Mason Plumlee’s foot and rolled his left ankle. He stayed in the game and scored four straight points to tie it at 100.
The lead changed hands twice in the final minute, and the game went to overtime after Holiday’s 19-footer was blocked by Torrey Craig at the horn to send it to overtime tied at 104.
“He started late, he should have started a little earlier,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said of Holiday. “I think he was worried about us definitely getting the last shot, but we wanted him to drive and maybe somebody would help and we’d find an open shooter, but we settled for a jumper.”
NOTES: Pelicans G Jrue Holiday was well short of his season high of 37 points. His career high is 38. ... Nuggets G Emmanuel Mudiay left the game with a sprained right ankle and didn’t return. Mudiay was injured in the second quarter and finished with four points in eight minutes. ... New Orleans G E’Twaun Moore came in averaging 19.6 points on 63.3 percent shooting from the field and 67.4 percent 3-point shooting in December. He scored only four points against Denver. ... Nuggets F Torrey Craig was recalled from Sioux Falls of the G-League and made his first career start.