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Jokic has strong game in return, Nuggets beat Celtics 119-99

DENVER (AP) The Denver Nuggets were glad to have Nikola Jokic back and even happier with the return of their defense.

Jokic had 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in his return to the lineup, and the Nuggets clamped down in the fourth quarter to beat the Boston Celtics 119-99 on Friday night.

Jokic played 27 minutes after missing two games because of illness. Wilson Chandler had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Nuggets, and Danilo Gallinari returned from sitting out Wednesday's game with vertigo to score 20 points.

Jokic said he was feeling too sick to play against Sacramento and Washington earlier in the week, but by Friday morning he knew he was ready to go.

''When I woke up I felt a lot better than I did (Thursday) and two days ago,'' he said. ''When I stepped on the court at shootaround and started running and I see that I can do that I decided then (I could play).''

Denver increased its lead for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference to a full game over idle Portland after holding Boston to 42.5 percent shooting.

Isaiah Thomas had 21 points, Avery Bradley 16 and Al Horford 15 for the Celtics, who finished their road trip 2-3. Boston held Golden State to 86 points in Wednesday's win but couldn't contain the Nuggets, who never trailed.

''It was just one of those games,'' Thomas said. ''We just have to figure out how to be more consistent each and every night.''

Thomas has sparked plenty of fourth-quarter comebacks this season but the Nuggets, behind Jokic's all-around game and offense from Chandler and Gallinari, built a big lead early and kept Thomas in check in the final 12 minutes. He had two points but attempted just one shot in the fourth while being shadowed by Gary Harris.

''Isaiah Thomas is a four-quarter guy, he leads the NBA in fourth-quarter points, and Gary did a great job on him,'' Chandler said.

Boston fell behind by as many as 20 in the first half but rallied to trail by just 11 at the break. A 3-pointer by Bradley midway through the third period got the Celtics within 75-67 but Denver responded with an 11-4 run to make it 86-71.

''We knew they were going to try to make a run so we had to be locked in and ready to play,'' Harris said.

Boston made one more run to get within nine on a three-point play by Jaylen Brown early in the fourth, but two 3-pointers by the Nuggets got the lead to 15 again and the Celtics never cut into the lead.

''We were slow to loose balls and we gave up a ton of rebounds,'' Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. ''Those are the type of things that you have to do to get back in it or to stay in it from the get go.''

TIP-INS

Celtics: The 119 points were the most Boston has allowed since giving up 123 to Washington on Jan. 24. ... G James Young missed his second straight game with a sore lower back. ... Stevens said Bradley, who has been on a minutes restriction since returning from a sore right Achilles tendon on Feb. 26 after missing 18 games, is close to full go. He sat out Sunday's loss in Phoenix for rest.

Nuggets: Denver won despite committing 19 turnovers. ... G Emmanuel Mudiay did not play. He scored 24 of his 30 points in the first quarter of the Nuggets' win in Boston on Nov. 6. ... F Kenneth Faried missed his seventh straight game with lower back spasms and there is no timetable for his return. ... F Malik Beasley was assigned to Sioux Falls of the NBA Development League.

UP NEXT

Celtics: Host the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon.

Nuggets: At the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

Copyright 2017 by Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
I. Thomas
4 PG
W. Chandler
21 SF
31.0 Min. Per Game 31.0
16.5 Pts. Per Game 16.5
2.0 Ast. Per Game 2.0
6.8 Reb. Per Game 6.8
45.8 Field Goal % 45.8
45.3 Three Point % 44.3
90.6 Free Throw % 72.7
  Offensive rebound by Danilo Gallinari 0:22
  Jamal Murray missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:24
+ 2 Tyler Zeller made hook shot, assist by Terry Rozier 0:34
+ 2 Jamal Murray made jump shot 0:47
  Bad pass turnover on Jordan Mickey 1:03
+ 2 Roy Hibbert made tip-in 1:13
  Offensive rebound by Roy Hibbert 1:13
  Roy Hibbert missed layup 1:15
  Defensive rebound by Juan Hernangomez 1:33
  Jordan Mickey missed 2nd of 2 free throws 1:33
+ 1 Jordan Mickey made 1st of 2 free throws 1:33
Team Stats
Points 99 119
Field Goals 34-80 (42.5%) 45-85 (52.9%)
3-Pointers 12-33 (36.4%) 12-31 (38.7%)
Free Throws 19-23 (82.6%) 17-22 (77.3%)
Total Rebounds 39 56
Offensive 8 11
Defensive 25 38
Team 6 7
Assists 19 24
Steals 11 11
Blocks 2 4
Turnovers 18 19
Fouls 23 18
Technicals 2 2
21 PTS, 2 REB, 5 AST
21 PTS, 10 REB, 7 AST
1234T
away team logo Celtics 41-24 2529261999
home team logo Nuggets 29-35 35302925119
Team Stats
away team logo Celtics 41-24 102.1 PPG 47.8 RPG 21.4 APG
home team logo Nuggets 29-35 109.1 PPG 47.7 RPG 24.0 APG
Key Players
I. Thomas PG PPG RPG APG FG%
W. Chandler SF PPG RPG APG FG%
Top Scorers
I. Thomas PG 21 PTS 2 REB 5 AST
W. Chandler SF 23 PTS 8 REB 1 AST
42.5 FG% 52.9
36.4 3PT FG% 38.7
82.6 FT% 77.3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
I. Thomas 21 2 5 7/14 1/6 6/6 5 34 1 0 2 0 2 -6 32
A. Bradley 16 2 2 6/14 4/8 0/0 3 29 3 0 3 0 2 -3 22
A. Horford 15 5 2 7/11 1/2 0/0 2 33 1 0 5 1 4 -17 20
J. Crowder 8 4 4 2/6 2/5 2/2 2 33 2 0 1 0 4 -7 21
A. Johnson 3 3 0 1/3 0/0 1/2 2 13 0 2 1 1 2 +2 7
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
I. Thomas 21 2 5 7/14 1/6 6/6 5 34 1 0 2 0 2 -6 32
A. Bradley 16 2 2 6/14 4/8 0/0 3 29 3 0 3 0 2 -3 22
A. Horford 15 5 2 7/11 1/2 0/0 2 33 1 0 5 1 4 -17 20
J. Crowder 8 4 4 2/6 2/5 2/2 2 33 2 0 1 0 4 -7 21
A. Johnson 3 3 0 1/3 0/0 1/2 2 13 0 2 1 1 2 +2 7
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. Brown 14 2 1 5/8 2/5 2/3 4 22 0 0 1 1 1 -21 17
M. Smart 13 7 2 4/14 1/2 4/4 3 25 1 0 2 4 3 -17 23
G. Green 6 3 0 1/3 1/2 3/4 0 15 2 0 1 0 3 +4 10
T. Zeller 2 0 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 -3 2
J. Mickey 1 0 0 0/0 0/0 1/2 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 -3 0
J. Jerebko 0 1 0 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 13 0 0 0 0 1 -6 1
K. Olynyk 0 2 2 0/2 0/1 0/0 2 11 0 0 1 0 2 -11 5
T. Rozier 0 2 1 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 8 1 0 0 1 1 -12 5
D. Jackson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Young - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 99 33 19 34/80 12/33 19/23 23 240 11 2 18 8 25 -100 165
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
W. Chandler 23 8 1 8/16 3/8 4/6 2 34 1 1 1 0 8 +12 34
N. Jokic 21 10 7 8/10 1/2 4/6 4 27 4 1 7 3 7 +8 43
D. Gallinari 20 5 1 6/12 3/5 5/5 2 34 2 0 2 2 3 +8 27
G. Harris 9 3 1 3/9 1/4 2/2 3 36 2 0 2 1 2 +12 14
J. Nelson 8 5 5 4/9 0/2 0/1 1 31 1 0 1 0 5 +8 23
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
W. Chandler 23 8 1 8/16 3/8 4/6 2 34 1 1 1 0 8 +12 34
N. Jokic 21 10 7 8/10 1/2 4/6 4 27 4 1 7 3 7 +8 43
D. Gallinari 20 5 1 6/12 3/5 5/5 2 34 2 0 2 2 3 +8 27
G. Harris 9 3 1 3/9 1/4 2/2 3 36 2 0 2 1 2 +12 14
J. Nelson 8 5 5 4/9 0/2 0/1 1 31 1 0 1 0 5 +8 23
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. Murray 13 3 0 6/11 1/4 0/0 0 17 0 0 2 0 3 +12 14
M. Plumlee 8 5 4 4/4 0/0 0/0 2 20 0 1 1 3 2 +10 21
W. Barton 7 3 4 3/7 1/3 0/0 1 20 0 1 1 0 3 +11 18
J. Hernangomez 5 3 0 1/1 1/1 2/2 2 13 1 0 1 0 3 +11 8
D. Arthur 3 3 1 1/4 1/2 0/0 1 7 0 0 0 1 2 +6 8
R. Hibbert 2 1 0 1/2 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 +2 3
K. Faried - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Miller - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. Mudiay - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Beasley - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 119 49 24 45/85 12/31 17/22 18 241 11 4 19 11 38 +100 213