Nikola Jokic joined rare NBA company on Sunday with a 40-point, 27-rebound, 10-assist triple-double for the Denver Nuggets in a 119-115 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Jokic showed all the skills that saw him scoop the last two NBA Most Valuable Player awards, and became the first player to record at least 40 points, 25 rebounds and 10 assists in a game since the great Wilt Chamberlain in 1968.
“What he does is just amazing every night,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, whose team needed everything Jokic gave them to get past the tenacious Hornets.
Denver led by 10 after his three-pointer with 6:45 to play, but the Hornets were just two back after P.J. Washington’s dunk with 13.5 remaining.
Jokic made a pair of free throws to seal the win and cap his 81st career triple-double.
Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant and Golden State’s Jordan Poole had big nights, too, both scoring 43 points to lead their teams to impressive wins.
The Nets erased a 17-point halftime deficit to beat the Pistons 124-121 in Detroit while the reigning champion Warriors earned just their third road win of the season with a 126-110 victory over the Raptors in Toronto.
Durant said defense was key to the Nets’ sixth straight victory.
Trailing 71-54 at halftime, the Nets out-scored the Pistons 44-25 in the third quarter and held on for the win.
Durant scored 26 points in the third period alone. Kyrie Irving added 38 points for the Nets, whose seven-point lead was cut to one by Bojan Bogdanovic’s running three-pointer with 40.1 seconds to play.
Irving made two free throws to push the lead back to three, but a basket by Detroit’s Alec Burks pulled the Pistons back within one before Durant made two free throws to clinch it.
Durant said physical defense was the key to the Nets’ comeback.
“We upped the pressure, upped the physicality and were able to get back in the game,” he said. “I was able to get some good looks off of the screens, and I was really able to just lock into the game plan on defense.
“That usually gets me going on offense.”
In Toronto, Poole’s 43 were a career high. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green scored 17 points apiece for the Warriors, whose star Stephen Curry missed his second game with a left shoulder injury.
Poole made five of the Warriors 18 three-pointers, connecting on 14 of 23 shots from the field overall.
“We needed to get a big-time win on the road against a really good team,” Poole said. “We were just connected and we executed from the beginning of the game.”
Magic top Celtics
In Boston, NBA top draft pick Paolo Banchero scored 31 points to lead surging Orlando to a 95-92 victory — the Magic’s second win over the Celtics in three days.
Banchero, who scored 22 points in the first half, connected on six of his seven three-point attempts and the Magic — whose slow season start included a nine-game losing streak — have now won six straight.
Their second consecutive win in Boston meant the Celtics, who fell to 22-9, slipped a hair behind the 21-8 Milwaukee Bucks atop the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics were without their leading scorer, Jayson Tatum, who missed the game for personal reasons.
Jaylen Brown led Boston with 24 points, Marcus Smart added 15 and Grant Williams chipped in 14.
After struggling to find shots in the first half, the Celtics put together a 16-6 scoring run in the third and took a 71-68 lead into the fourth quarter.
Down by one in the final minute they came up empty on two possessions, unable to get the ball inbounds on one in the face of Orlando’s defense.
In Minneapolis, Anthony Edwards scored 37 points and D’Angelo Russell added 28 as the Minnesota Timberwolves routed the Chicago Bulls 150-126.
The T’Wolves set a season high with 23 three-pointers and a franchise high for points in a game.
Jalen Brunson scored 30 points to propel the New York Knicks to a seventh straight victory, 109-106 over the Indiana Pacers.
It came down to the wire in Los Angeles, where LeBron James scored 33 points and Thomas Bryant — starting at center for injured star Anthony Davis — delivered the game-winning dunk with 7.4 seconds remaining in the Lakers’ 119-117 victory over the Washington Wizards.