Nuggets make it rain in Milwaukee

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Nuggets make it rain in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- Nikola Jokic had a triple-double wrapped up in the first half, and the Denver Nuggets put together one of the best 3-point shooting nights in league history in a 134-123 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.

Denver matched a franchise record with 24 3-pointers, one shy of the NBA record, on 40 attempts.

Jokic finished with 30 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high 17 assists, reaching a triple-double with 1:54 remaining in the second quarter.

Giannis Antetokounmpo also recorded a triple-double, finishing with 36 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists for his ninth career triple-double, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most in Bucks history.

Gary Harris added 28 points and Jamal Murray had 26 points for the Nuggets, who led by double digits for most of the fourth quarter.

Denver scored 74 points in the first half for its second-highest scoring half of the season. The Nuggets had 82 points in the second half of a 146-114 win over New Orleans on Nov. 17.

It also marked the most points allowed by the Bucks in a half this season (see full recap).

Gibson, Butler spark Timberwolves’ comeback
MINNEAPOLIS -- Taj Gibson scored a season-high 28 points and Jimmy Butler added 24, providing the Minnesota Timberwolves with the production and energy for a 119-111 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Jeff Teague pitched in 20 points and Jamal Crawford added 15 for the Timberwolves, who rallied from a deficit as large as 15 points in the second quarter and 12 points late in the third to raise their home record to 24-7 on an emotional evening that started with a tribute to former coach and executive Flip Saunders.

Julius Randle had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers before fouling out, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brandon Ingram each scored 17 points.

Ivica Zubac, who went 8 for 8 from the floor for a season-high 19 points, threw down a dunk for a 99-98 lead for the Lakers, but that was essentially their last momentum-creating play of the game.

Butler and Gibson, the former Chicago Bulls teammates, muscled their way to the basket with a fierce determination down the stretch. Butler drove along the baseline and flicked a short pass to Gibson in the lane, where he dropped in a layup and converted a three-point play for a 110-104 lead with 3:59 left.

Then Butler came up with crowd-pleasing blocks of Randle and Isaiah Thomas on consecutive possessions in the closing minutes, putting his stamp on yet another winning performance with his new team (see full recap).

How Sixers can clinch a playoff spot

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How Sixers can clinch a playoff spot

The Sixers could lock in a playoff spot Saturday night, but their postseason berth does not hinge on whether or not they beat the visiting Timberwolves.

The 41-30 Sixers would clinch if the 32-40 Pistons lose to the 24-48 Bulls. This is a meeting of two struggling teams, both who are 3-7 in their last 10 games and the Bulls are on a four-game losing skid.

The Sixers will have to wait for the results, though. The Pistons and Bulls tip off one hour after the Sixers, who have an early 6 p.m. game.

The Sixers' goal of making the playoffs would not stop with clinching a berth. They have their eyes set on homecourt advantage, a battle that could come down to the final games.

The Sixers currently sit in the fourth spot in a heated competition with the Pacers and Wizards. Keep an eye on how John Wall's health (knee) impacts this race. He practiced five-on-five Saturday.

Who needs Kawhi? Aldridge drops 45 in Spurs' OT win

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Who needs Kawhi? Aldridge drops 45 in Spurs' OT win

SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell's 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs' 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah's 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Pacers use late run to edge Clippers
INDIANAPOLIS -- Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points and the Indiana Pacers used a late 9-0 run to hold on for a 109-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, putting them on the precipice of clinching a playoff spot.

The Pacers won for only the second time in five games but can clinch a playoff berth with one more win or a Detroit loss.

Los Angeles' fading playoff aspirations were dealt another blow. The Clippers are now three games behind Utah for the final postseason spot in the Western Conference. Utah was playing later Friday.

Lou Williams led Los Angeles with 27 points and DeAndre Jordan finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Clippers lost for the fifth time in six games (see full recap).

Jokic, Murray lift Nuggets over Wizards
WASHINGTON -- Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray each scored 25 points to keep the Denver Nuggets' playoff hopes alive by beating the Washington Wizards 108-100 on Friday night.

The one-two punch of Jokic and Murray plus outside shooting from Will Barton allowed the Nuggets to withstand a third-quarter charge from the Wizards and maintain their sights on one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. Denver went into the night two games back of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz and shot 50 percent from 3-point territory to stay very much in the race with nine games remaining.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 24 points as it failed to gain ground in a competitive East where five teams are separated in the standings by four games (see full recap).