DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic notched his 108th triple-double with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists, and the Denver Nuggets overcame a 20-point, first-half deficit to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 134-116 on Monday night.
Jokic broke a tie with LeBron James and Jason Kidd to move into fourth place in triple-doubles. He trails Magic Johnson by 30 for third.
Denver rookie Julian Strawther scored a career-high 21 points off the bench to help overcome the absence of Jamal Murray, who will miss several games with a right hamstring injury.
“His injury is not one- or two-game injury,” coach Michael Malone said. “That’s what I do know. This is something that will be longer than we would like.”
Strawther scored just 20 points in five games and had been used mostly in garbage time before being thrust into meaningful minutes Monday. He responded by hitting 5 of 9 of his 3-point attempts.
“It’s one of those things to stay ready,” Strawther said. “You know there’s minutes up for grabs, we don’t know where they were going to go.”
He scored 12 of his points in just 5 minutes, 31 seconds, in the fourth quarter.
“After the first two go in it’s like, ‘How many can you make?’” Strawther said. “There are a bunch of guys on this team that have that kind of mentality. They see the ball go in and it’s over after that.”
Michael Porter Jr. had 22 points and nine rebounds, while Aaron Gordon finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets.
New Orleans rookie Jordan Hawkins, starting for CJ McCollum, set a career best with 31 points on 7-for-14 shooting from 3-point range. Zion Williamson added 20 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Brandon Ingram had 22 points for the Pelicans.
“He’s fearless,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said of Hawkins. “When he’s open he’s going to shoot it. He’s aggressive and the beauty of it is Brandon, Z, all of his teammates are looking for him.”
McCollum was ruled out Sunday after an MRI revealed he had suffered a collapsed lung and will likely miss multiple games.
“We do not think it is too bad, but we have to run more tests and see where we are after,” Green said.
The Pelicans, on the strength of shooting 10 of 17 from 3-point range, led 61-41 late in the second period but were outscored 46-19 spanning the second and third quarters. Denver led 90-82 after Jokic fed Collin Gillespie on a 3-pointer to give the two-time MVP the triple-double.
“We know who we are, we know what we’re capable of,” said Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who finished with 15 points. “We just turned it up in the third quarter and got the lead back.”
It was a six-point lead after Hawkins made a 3-pointer midway through the fourth period, but Strawther scored five points and Gordon dunked to give Denver a 113-100 lead. New Orleans cut it to seven, but Jokic sealed the win when he fed Porter on an alley-oop to make it 121-108.
Pelicans: Continue their three-game road at Minnesota on Wednesday night.
Nuggets: Host Golden State on Wednesday night.