Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) reacts during the first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys
Dec 20 (Reuters) - Jamal Murray had 22 points, including a big 3-pointer late, and also added a career-high 15 assists, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Dallas Mavericks 126-118 on Tuesday night.
Nikola Jokic scored a game-high 32 points and also had 16 rebounds to help Denver sweep a four-game homestand and stay atop the Western Conference standings.
Trey Lyles and Monte Morris scored 16 points each off the bench for the Nuggets. Denver has won 11 of its last 13, and its 21-9 record ties the best start in franchise history.
Harrison Barnes tied a season high with 30 points, and rookie sensation Luka Doncic had 23 points and 12 assists for the Mavericks, who have lost three straight. DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
The Mavericks trailed by six midway through the third quarter but responded with a 14-4 run to take a 95-91 lead. Denver scored the last 14 of the period to lead 105-95 heading into the fourth.
Dallas started chipping away and got within 107-104 on a Jordan dunk, but J.J. Barea missed a 3-pointer that would have tied it. It was the last chance the Mavericks had to make it close.
Three free throws and a 3-pointer by Morris fueled an 8-2 run that gave Denver a 115-106 lead. Barnes hit three straight layups, but the Nuggets answered with a 17-footer by Murray and two baskets by Morris.
Murray‘s 3-pointer made it 124-114 with 1:19 left.
The teams combined for 143 points in a hot-shooting first half. Both teams shot better than 55 percent from the field and were also deadly from long range. Denver was 9 of 18 and Dallas 10 of 16 from 3-point range.
Denver shot 55.6 percent for the game, but Dallas cooled off in the second half and hit just 46.5 percent on the night.
Murray, whose previous high for assists was 10, had 13 in the first 24 minutes to help the Nuggets lead 74-69.