Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray combined for three clutch hoops, and the Denver defense held Orlando without a point for nearly 2 1/2 minutes down the stretch as the visiting Nuggets outlasted the Magic 91-87 on Saturday night.
Playing a second home game in two nights, the Magic used two- and 3-point baskets from Terrence Ross to help erase an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit. A 3-pointer by Nikola Vucevic tied the game at 81-all with 3:57 to play.
But Orlando didn’t score again until Evan Fournier nailed a long jumper with 1:17 to go, by which point the Nuggets had build a five-point advantage on a free throw by Gary Harris, a 19-footer by Jokic with 1:53 remaining and a 13-footer by Murray with 1:24 to go.
After Fournier’s score and a Murray miss, the Magic had the ball, down 86-83 in the final minute. But Vucevic was called for an offensive foul with 51.9 seconds left, and Murray converted a Jokic assist at the other end into a dunk, allowing the Nuggets to keep the Magic at arm’s length.
A free throw by Harris with 13.7 seconds left and two by Murray with 5.1 seconds remaining iced the win, which gave a happy ending to a Denver trip that had begun with a loss at New Orleans on Thursday.
Murray scored a team-high 22 points, and Jokic had 20 to pace the Nuggets, who snapped a two-game losing streak despite shooting just 37.0 percent from the field.
Harris added 13 points and Monte Morris 10, while Paul Millsap was the game’s leading rebounder with 11.
Vucevic had a game-high 24 points, and Aaron Gordon had 21 for the Magic, who led by as many as 12 points in the first half but couldn’t overcome a 27-18 deficit in 3-point scoring and a 28-7 disparity in free-throw points.
Fournier finished with 11 points and Ross 10. Al-Farouq Aminu was Orlando’s top rebounder with 10.
The Magic led 26-17 through one quarter and 45-40 at the break before the Nuggets took a 69-63 edge entering the fourth.
—Field Level Media