DENVER – Nikola Jokic scored 11 points and 16 rebounds on a bruised right knee, Will Barton added 17 points and the Denver Nuggets routed the Dallas Mavericks 106-75 on Friday night.
Former Missouri and Tolton star Michael Porter Jr. had 12 points.
Jokic was a game time decision after injuring his knee Tuesday in Utah. The reigning NBA MVP was on the court long before the announcement and was tackling jumper after jumper.
It was a sign of things to come as he helped the Nuggets break a two-game skid. Jokic was effective 5 out of 9 from the ground. He also had eight assists. Jokic’s night ended early with the Nuggets comfortably up 31 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Luka Doncic scored 16 for the Mavericks, who were playing for a second straight night after beating San Antonio at home on Thursday.
Leading 64-50 early in the third, the Nuggets went on an 11-0 streak – helped by 3 points from Barton, Aaron Gordon and Jokic – to gain control. They outscored Dallas 33-12 in the third quarter.
The Nuggets dominated at the bottom, edging Dallas by a 50-22 margin in the paint. They shot 51.8 percent from the ground on a night when five players scored in double digits.
Although Jokic’s knee looked great, his nose can be sore. The tall handyman absorbed a blow from Dwight Powell and fell to the ground. Jokic went to the bench to get a towel to dab his nose and was back.
Over the course of his career, Jokic has proven to be incredibly enduring. He’s played every game for the past two seasons.
“I sometimes feel like I’m his defense attorney because it’s just the facts and I don’t think Nikola really takes credit for his talent as a player,” said the coach. Nuggets Michael Malone. “The guy is amazing.”
Mavericks: G Tim Hardaway Jr. was rated a blatant-1 in the second quarter when his elbow hit the face of Nuggets PG Facundo Campazzo. … The Mavs shot 29.5% from the ground.
nuggets: Wearing neon green sneakers, G Monte Morris had eight points. … Jokic pulled a technique for arguing with the officials at the end of the second quarter. … One of the loudest roars of the night was when Bol Bol entered the fourth. He scored four points. … Jeff Green had 14 points. … Barton added six assists. … Denver led up to 35 points.
Dallas forward / center Kristaps Porzingis missed a second game in a row with low back strain.
“We just want him to be right,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “If he’s not right, he can’t play.”
First and foremost
The Mavericks have been outscored in the first quarter in all five games this season, including 29-21 on Friday.
“If we were judged in the first quarter, we wouldn’t be so good,” cracked Kidd, whose team fell to 3-2.
Mavericks: Welcome Sacramento Sunday.
nuggets: Start a three-game stretch of road Saturday in Minnesota.