DENVER — — Jamal Murray returned to the lineup with 25 points and a season-high 12 assists, Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 11 assists, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-107 on Friday night.
Murray, who finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double, sat out Tuesday’s win over Memphis with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, and the four-day break appeared to reinvigorate him. He scored 19 points within the second half as Denver erased a six-point deficit early within the third quarter to take a double-digit lead.
Michael Porter Jr. scored 18 points in his first game after missing 13 with a left heel strain, an injury he said is unrelated to his previous back injuries which have been a problem since college and early in his NBA profession. He hit Denver’s first basket and scored five quick points.
Porter added five rebounds in 27 minutes to assist the Nuggets stay atop the Western Conference standings.
Damian Lillard had 34 points and eight assists, Jerami Grant scored 20 and Jusuf Nurkic added 11 before fouling out for the Blazers, who ended their six-game road swing with three straight losses. Portland was 2-4 on the trip.
The Blazers rallied from 13 down within the second quarter to steer by seven early within the third. Murray scored 12 points in 6:20 of the third, including a pair of 3-pointers, to assist Denver construct a 93-80 lead heading into the fourth.
Jokic’s three-point play made it 102-87. A 3-pointer from Lillard got the Blazers inside seven, but they couldn’t get any closer.
Trail Blazers: F Justise Winslow (left ankle sprain) was inactive. He was injured in Wednesday’s loss at Oklahoma City. “We still don’t understand how long, but he’s walking around on crutches right away,” coach Chauncey Billups said.
Nuggets: Murray’s profession high in assists is 15, completed in December 2018 against Dallas. … Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 14 points and Aaron Gordon 13 to place all five starters in double figures.
Trail Blazers: Host the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.
Nuggets: Host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.
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