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Harris scores 27 as Nuggets beat Hornets 121-104

DENVER (AP) Michael Malone called Gary Harris one of the best young players in the NBA. The Denver guard then backed up his coach's praise with another strong game.

Harris scored an efficient 27 points, Nikola Jokic had 15 points and 16 rebounds, and the Nuggets beat the Charlotte Hornets 121-104 on Monday night.

Will Barton and Jamal Murray scored 18 apiece for Denver, which had seven players in double figures. Murray played 34 minutes and attempted a game-high 15 shots while playing with a bruised right thigh sustained Saturday against Golden State.

Malone said before the game Harris was one of the most consistent players on the team at both ends of the floor. The Michigan State product has gone from a fringe player as a rookie three years ago to signing an $84 million, four-year contract that kicks in next season.

''When I got here there were questions, was Gary an NBA player?'' Malone said. ''We've rewarded him, he's a huge part of our future and a foundation, and people are starting to understand why.''

Harris has always defended the opponent's best perimeter player, but this season his offense has jumped. He leads the team in scoring at 17.4 points per game. He went 5 of 7 on 3-pointers and finished 8 for 11 overall Monday but said he shot the ball better at the start of the season.

''It was feeling really good to begin the season and I'm trying to get back to that,'' he said.

Harris got hot early and then the Nuggets used a big third quarter to pull away and win their third in a row. Jokic had 10 points and six rebounds in the period and Murray scored eight points in 1:03 to start a 14-6 run that gave Denver a 97-79 lead.

The bench extended the advantage to 19 midway through the fourth.

Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 20 points and Dwight Howard had 19 points and seven rebounds. The Hornets had won three straight and four of six.

Charlotte has allowed opponents to shoot better than 50 percent in five straight games. Denver hit 56.8 percent from the field.

''In order to win in this league you have to get stops,'' Walker said. ''For us to win we have to get stops. We have to get better on that end of the floor.''

Harris helped Denver get off to a quick start by shooting 5 of 6 on 3s in the first quarter. The Nuggets led by 14 early in the second, but the Hornets outscored them by 20 to take a 54-48 lead.

Denver closed the first half on a 15-8 run to take a one-point lead at the break and never trailed in the second half.

''Our defensive intensity wasn't there from all of us,'' Howard said.

TIP-INS

Hornets: Nicolas Batum had 15 points and Jeremy Lamb scored 14 off the bench. ... F Marvin Williams missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle. Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said he hopes Williams will be available Thursday night in Portland. ... Walker has scored in double figures in 17 straight games and 51 of the 53 games he has played this season.

Nuggets: F Darrell Arthur (sore knee) and F Wilson Chandler (flu-like symptoms) were held out of the morning shootaround but were able to play. Chandler had two points in 21 minutes and Arthur scored 10 in 14 minutes off the bench. ... F Torrey Craig landed hard on his back after trying to block Cody Zeller's shot midway through the fourth. He stayed down for a few minutes but remained in the game.

FRESH LEGS

Malone has given his players more days off recently to help them recharge and they have responded. Denver tied a season high with 18 made 3-pointers and has hit at least 10 in three straight games.

As Malone told reporters the players cite fewer practices for the improved shooting, veteran Richard Jefferson shouted, ''Yes, it's true!''

DUNK CITY

Arthur, who has logged just 32 minutes all season, went up for a rare dunk to start the fourth quarter, bringing the Denver bench to its feet.

It was rare to see the nine-year veteran from Kansas attack the rim.

''That was the Bud Light play of the game,'' Malone said. ''I asked the team in the locker room, `When was the last time anyone saw Darrell dunk in a game?' and Paul Millsap said, `When he was at Kansas.' It's been a while.''

UP NEXT

Hornets: At the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Nuggets: At the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

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Key Players
Min. Per Game
Pts. Per Game
Ast. Per Game
Reb. Per Game
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
  Defensive rebound by Emmanuel Mudiay 0:05
  Treveon Graham missed jump shot 0:09
  Defensive rebound by Dwayne Bacon 0:23
  Malik Beasley missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:27
  Defensive rebound by Juan Hernangomez 0:48
  Johnny O'Bryant missed fade-away jump shot 0:50
+ 2 Malik Beasley made jump shot, assist by Trey Lyles 1:03
  Defensive rebound by Torrey Craig 1:20
  Malik Monk missed fade-away jump shot 1:24
  Bad pass turnover on Malik Beasley, stolen by Malik Monk 1:32
  Defensive rebound by Torrey Craig 1:54
Team Stats
Points 104 121
Field Goals 39-77 (50.6%) 46-81 (56.8%)
3-Pointers 11-26 (42.3%) 18-34 (52.9%)
Free Throws 15-24 (62.5%) 11-13 (84.6%)
Total Rebounds 40 44
Offensive 5 5
Defensive 31 36
Team 4 3
Assists 21 30
Steals 7 10
Blocks 1 2
Turnovers 10 11
Fouls 16 16
Technicals 0 0
20 PTS, 3 REB, 4 AST
15 PTS, 16 REB, 7 AST
1234T
away team logo Hornets 23-30 25372220104
home team logo Nuggets 29-25 36273424121
Team Stats
away team logo Hornets 23-30 113.9 PPG 43.8 RPG 23.9 APG
home team logo Nuggets 29-25 110.0 PPG 47.2 RPG 26.8 APG
Key Players
K. Walker PG 26.0 PPG 4.5 RPG 6.3 APG 43.1 FG%
G. Harris SG 16.6 PPG 3.2 RPG 2.9 APG 43.9 FG%
Top Scorers
K. Walker PG 20 PTS 3 REB 4 AST
G. Harris SG 27 PTS 1 REB 2 AST
50.6 FG% 56.8
42.3 3PT FG% 52.9
62.5 FT% 84.6
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Walker 33 20 3 4 1 0 2 1 6/13 3/6 5/6 0 3 30 -14
D. Howard 27 19 7 1 0 1 2 3 9/11 0/0 1/5 0 7 27 -17
N. Batum 31 15 4 5 0 0 1 2 5/11 3/7 2/4 1 3 28 -22
F. Kaminsky 22 9 2 3 1 0 1 1 4/8 1/3 0/2 0 2 17 -9
M. Kidd-Gilchrist 28 2 3 2 0 0 1 1 1/3 0/0 0/0 0 3 8 -21
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Walker 33 20 3 4 1 0 2 1 6/13 3/6 5/6 0 3 30 -14
D. Howard 27 19 7 1 0 1 2 3 9/11 0/0 1/5 0 7 27 -17
N. Batum 31 15 4 5 0 0 1 2 5/11 3/7 2/4 1 3 28 -22
F. Kaminsky 22 9 2 3 1 0 1 1 4/8 1/3 0/2 0 2 17 -9
M. Kidd-Gilchrist 28 2 3 2 0 0 1 1 1/3 0/0 0/0 0 3 8 -21
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Lamb 25 14 3 2 2 0 0 3 5/11 1/4 3/3 0 3 23 +8
T. Graham 25 11 1 2 2 0 0 0 4/7 3/4 0/0 0 1 18 -8
C. Zeller 17 8 10 1 0 0 2 2 2/3 0/0 4/4 3 7 18 +2
M. Carter-Williams 16 6 1 1 0 0 1 3 3/6 0/1 0/0 1 0 8 +4
J. Stone 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 1 -2
J. O'Bryant 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/2 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 -2
D. Bacon 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 1 -2
M. Monk 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 0 1 -2
M. Paige - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Mathiang - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Williams - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 236 104 36 21 7 1 10 16 39/77 11/26 15/24 5 31 180 -85
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
G. Harris 33 27 1 2 1 0 2 1 9/13 5/7 4/5 0 1 31 +17
W. Barton 33 18 2 8 1 1 1 2 7/10 2/3 2/2 0 2 37 +17
J. Murray 32 18 4 7 2 0 2 3 7/15 4/8 0/0 1 3 36 +13
N. Jokic 32 15 16 7 2 0 3 3 5/11 2/4 3/3 3 13 44 +15
W. Chandler 21 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 1/4 0/1 0/0 0 0 3 +11
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
G. Harris 33 27 1 2 1 0 2 1 9/13 5/7 4/5 0 1 31 +17
W. Barton 33 18 2 8 1 1 1 2 7/10 2/3 2/2 0 2 37 +17
J. Murray 32 18 4 7 2 0 2 3 7/15 4/8 0/0 1 3 36 +13
N. Jokic 32 15 16 7 2 0 3 3 5/11 2/4 3/3 3 13 44 +15
W. Chandler 21 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 1/4 0/1 0/0 0 0 3 +11
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
E. Mudiay 18 12 2 2 1 0 1 0 5/7 1/1 1/1 0 2 18 +4
T. Lyles 24 11 7 1 0 1 0 2 4/8 2/4 1/2 0 7 21 -2
D. Arthur 13 10 1 1 2 0 1 3 4/5 2/3 0/0 0 1 14 0
T. Craig 26 6 7 2 0 0 0 1 3/6 0/2 0/0 1 6 17 +6
M. Beasley 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1/2 0/1 0/0 0 0 1 +2
J. Hernangomez 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 1 +2
P. Millsap - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Faried - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Plumlee - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Lydon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Jefferson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Morris - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 234 121 41 30 10 2 11 16 46/81 18/34 11/13 5 36 223 +85