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Jokic scores season-high 39, Nuggets beat Hornets 123-110

DENVER (AP) Nikola Jokic's impressive numbers took a backseat to his coast-to-coast dunk.

Cheered by the sellout crowd for his jam, he was also teased by his teammates. To him, the slam was a thing of beauty.

''Poetry in motion,'' the 7-footer said.

Jokic scored a season-high 39 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, reserve Paul Millsap added 18 points and the Western Conference-leading Nuggets knocked off the Charlotte Hornets 123-110 on Saturday for their 10th straight home victory.

That's two straight games where Jokic's now had a memorable dunk .

''If I'm not tired and 100 percent sure I'm going to dunk it, I'm going to dunk,'' Jokic explained. ''But two points is two points - however you score.''

His slam in the third quarter led to some good-natured ribbing from teammates such as Torrey Craig, who also had a high-flying dunk.

''He's feeling pretty bouncy lately,'' Craig playfully said.

Jokic took it all in stride.

''Just because (Craig) can jump high, doesn't mean he can dunk better,'' Jokic said.

Jokic turned in another impressive stat line, also adding six assists, three steals and one blocked shot. He was 16 of 29 from the floor and 4 of 5 from the line.

''You try to play him straight up, he's going to do what he wants,'' Hornets guard Malik Monk said. ''We just tried to play him straight up and he just exploited us on that. He's a great player. I can't say anything bad about him.''

At 26-11, the Nuggets are off to their best NBA start in franchise history. This also marks the latest they've been in first place in the conference since March 16, 1977.

To think, they're not even at full strength yet. But they're getting closer. Millsap and Gary Harris, who had 17 points off the bench, are steadily getting back up to speed after returning from injuries. The team is still missing starter Will Barton.

''It's good to be healthy. It's good to be whole,'' Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. ''Both (Millsap and Harris) showed they're ready to take their starting jobs back. Me bringing them off the bench was trying to get them back into a game rhythm.''

Kemba Walker had 20 points for the Hornets, who kicked off a six-game trip. Bismack Biyombo added a season-high 16 points.

Trey Lyles and Millsap hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to give the Nuggets a 105-93 lead. Craig cemented the win with a dunk on a fast break with 1:50 remaining to extend the lead to 14.

Denver scored 27 points off turnovers.

''When you play hard, good things happen,'' Harris said. ''We have to continue to do that.''

TIP-INS

Hornets: Biyombo was in the starting lineup with C Cody Zeller out after he had surgery to fix a broken right hand. ... G Jeremy Lamb missed a second straight game with a strained right hamstring. ''He's progressing well,'' coach James Borrego reported. ... F Marvin Williams was called for a flagrant foul when he tried to prevent a layup by Craig in the second quarter.

Nuggets: Denver led Charlotte in points in the paint by a 64-48 margin. ... Had a season-high 31 second-chance points. ... Jokic's 29 shot attempts were a season high.

OH, BROTHER

It was a Hernangomez family reunion as Nuggets forward Juancho Hernangomez faced older brother Willy, who's a center for the Hornets. Juancho didn't score in nearly 20 minutes of work, while Willy had 10 points in 15:35.

Willy Hernangomez didn't play in their first meeting Dec. 7, when Juancho had 15 points in Denver's 113-107 loss.

FRONT-ROW SEAT

Craig had the hustle play of the day late in the fourth, saving a ball heading out of bounds and winding up about five rows deep into the stands.

''I had beer all over my shorts and legs,'' said Craig, who finished with 12 points.

ENERGY

Monk scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, including a 3-point buzzer-beater over Jamal Murray to end the third that cut it to 89-84.

''I just try to bring energy every time I step on the court,'' Monk said. ''I did a pretty good job of that.''

UP NEXT

Hornets: At Phoenix on Sunday night.

Nuggets: At Houston on Monday, the first of a two-game, back-to-back trip.

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Key Players
K. Walker
15 PG
N. Jokic
15 C
31.1 Min. Per Game 31.1
18.2 Pts. Per Game 18.2
7.6 Ast. Per Game 7.6
10.0 Reb. Per Game 10.0
43.9 Field Goal % 50.0
43.9 Three Point % 49.4
82.0 Free Throw % 83.6
  24-second shot clock violation turnover 0:00
  Defensive rebound by Malik Beasley 0:23
  Devonte' Graham missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:26
  Defensive rebound by Devonte' Graham 0:32
  Malik Beasley missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:36
+ 2 Willy Hernangomez made layup, assist by Devonte' Graham 0:55
+ 1 Nikola Jokic made free throw 1:10
  Shooting foul on Bismack Biyombo 1:10
  Offensive rebound by Nikola Jokic 1:12
  Paul Millsap missed jump shot 1:14
  Personal foul on Kemba Walker 1:28
Team Stats
Points 110 123
Field Goals 39-82 (47.6%) 47-102 (46.1%)
3-Pointers 11-29 (37.9%) 14-39 (35.9%)
Free Throws 21-26 (80.8%) 15-20 (75.0%)
Total Rebounds 55 53
Offensive 12 17
Defensive 35 29
Team 8 7
Assists 22 30
Steals 7 10
Blocks 4 6
Turnovers 17 7
Fouls 19 19
Technicals 0 0
16 PTS, 12 REB
39 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST
1234T
away team logo Hornets 18-20 26302826110
home team logo Nuggets 26-11 31273134123
Team Stats
away team logo Hornets 18-20 PPG RPG APG
home team logo Nuggets 26-11 106.0 PPG 41.3 RPG 28.3 APG
Key Players
K. Walker PG PPG RPG APG FG%
N. Jokic C 17.7 PPG 11.7 RPG 9.7 APG 50.0 FG%
Top Scorers
K. Walker PG 20 PTS 4 REB 3 AST
N. Jokic C 39 PTS 12 REB 6 AST
47.6 FG% 46.1
37.9 3PT FG% 35.9
80.8 FT% 75.0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
K. Walker 20 4 3 6/17 1/6 7/9 2 33 0 0 5 0 4 -6 25
B. Biyombo 16 12 0 7/10 0/0 2/3 4 30 2 2 2 4 8 -3 30
M. Williams 16 6 0 6/15 3/8 1/2 2 34 3 1 3 3 3 -1 23
N. Batum 11 7 3 4/6 3/5 0/0 2 33 2 1 1 1 6 -9 26
D. Graham 10 3 8 3/9 2/5 2/2 2 26 0 0 0 0 3 -2 29
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
K. Walker 20 4 3 6/17 1/6 7/9 2 33 0 0 5 0 4 -6 25
B. Biyombo 16 12 0 7/10 0/0 2/3 4 30 2 2 2 4 8 -3 30
M. Williams 16 6 0 6/15 3/8 1/2 2 34 3 1 3 3 3 -1 23
N. Batum 11 7 3 4/6 3/5 0/0 2 33 2 1 1 1 6 -9 26
D. Graham 10 3 8 3/9 2/5 2/2 2 26 0 0 0 0 3 -2 29
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
M. Monk 16 3 2 6/11 2/5 2/2 1 22 0 0 3 0 3 -6 20
W. Hernangomez 10 5 1 3/7 0/0 4/4 1 15 0 0 0 2 3 -12 17
M. Kidd-Gilchrist 7 5 2 2/4 0/0 3/4 2 16 0 0 0 1 4 -10 16
M. Bridges 2 1 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 12 0 0 0 0 1 -6 3
T. Parker 2 1 3 1/2 0/0 0/0 2 16 0 0 3 1 0 -10 6
F. Kaminsky - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Lamb - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Zeller - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Chealey - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Macura - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Bacon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 110 47 22 39/82 11/29 21/26 19 237 7 4 17 12 35 -65 195
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
N. Jokic 39 12 6 16/29 3/9 4/5 1 34 3 1 2 8 4 +8 65
T. Craig 12 3 1 4/7 2/4 2/4 4 28 0 1 0 1 2 +10 18
M. Plumlee 8 3 5 4/5 0/0 0/0 5 19 0 3 0 0 3 -1 24
J. Murray 8 6 7 3/13 2/4 0/0 2 31 0 0 2 0 6 +9 26
J. Hernangomez 0 2 0 0/3 0/3 0/0 1 19 0 0 1 0 2 -10 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
N. Jokic 39 12 6 16/29 3/9 4/5 1 34 3 1 2 8 4 +8 65
T. Craig 12 3 1 4/7 2/4 2/4 4 28 0 1 0 1 2 +10 18
M. Plumlee 8 3 5 4/5 0/0 0/0 5 19 0 3 0 0 3 -1 24
J. Murray 8 6 7 3/13 2/4 0/0 2 31 0 0 2 0 6 +9 26
J. Hernangomez 0 2 0 0/3 0/3 0/0 1 19 0 0 1 0 2 -10 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
P. Millsap 18 6 3 7/14 1/3 3/4 1 27 4 0 2 4 2 +14 32
G. Harris 17 6 5 7/15 3/8 0/1 1 25 1 0 0 2 4 +23 34
T. Lyles 9 5 2 2/5 1/3 4/4 1 14 1 0 0 1 4 +5 19
M. Morris 8 1 1 2/7 2/3 2/2 0 15 1 0 0 1 0 +8 12
M. Beasley 4 2 0 2/4 0/2 0/0 3 22 0 1 0 0 2 -1 7
B. Goodwin 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
T. Lydon 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
I. Thomas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
W. Barton - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Welsh - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Vanderbilt - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Porter Jr. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 123 46 30 47/102 14/39 15/20 19 236 10 6 7 17 29 +65 238