Cavs top Nuggets 119-116 in OT, end Denver’s road win streak
CLEVELAND (AP) — Lauri Markkanen made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in overtime and scored a season-high 31 points, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-116 victory over Denver on Friday night that snapped the Nuggets’ franchise-record road winning streak at seven.
Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic scored in the paint to cut Cleveland’s lead to 117-116 with 25 seconds remaining, but rookie Evan Mobley dunked over Aaron Gordon to restore the Cavaliers’ three-point advantage. Bones Hyland missed a 3-pointer as time expired, completing Cleveland’s comeback from 14 down in the fourth quarter.
“That’s our team all year, we keep fighting and no one puts their heads down,” Markkanen said. “It shows the heart and the competitors we have here. We know every night is a huge game and we’ve got to give our best. The crowd kept us going and it was a great win.”
Mobley scored nine of his 27 points in OT and had 11 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who moved one game in front of Toronto for sixth place in the East. All-Star Darius Garland had 25 points and 14 assists, and Markkanen added 10 rebounds and four steals.
“We know what’s going on around the league, so yeah, we know what happened to Toronto (a 128-123 OT loss to the Lakers),” Garland said. “Lauri was great and this guy right here, Evan Mobley, is a 7-foot unicorn who can do anything.”
Jokic had 32 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but committed a turnover and missed a shot in the final 1:40 of the extra period. Denver, which has won 12 of its last 16 overall, lost on the road for the first time since Feb. 11 at Boston.
“It seems like we did a little bit of everything wrong at the end,” Jokic said. “We didn’t do a good job defensive rebounding, especially me, and my last pass was bad. Really bad. I made a mistake.”
The Nuggets held the largest lead of the night at 92-78 with 10:29 left in the fourth quarter, but Cleveland outscored them 29-15 in the rest of regulation. Jokic’s driving layup with 44 seconds left sent the game to OT tied it at 107.
Rookie Hyland had 17 points and seven assists off the bench, Gordon scored 20 points, and DeMarcus Cousins added 12 points and eight rebounds.
“Bones has been playing at a very high level, so I stuck with him down the stretch,” said Denver coach Michael Malone, whose team is sixth in the West. “That was a great look he got at the end. It just didn’t go in.”
LONG ROAD BACK
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (left knee surgery), who has not played this season, spent two days practicing with their G League affiliate in Grand Rapids this week. It was his first five-on-five action since tearing his left ACL last April 12 at Golden State. “That was a huge step for Jamal, but he still has a lot of work to do,” Malone said.
Fellow maximum-contract signee Michael Porter Jr. (lumbar spine surgery) has been sidelined since Nov. 8, but agent Mark Bartelstein said he could return before April.
Nuggets: F Vlatko Cancar (right foot surgery) and F Zeke Nnaji (bilateral knee soreness) were inactive. Nnaji has missed 10 total games with the injury since Feb. 24.
Cavaliers: F Lamar Stevens made his third straight start, giving Cleveland two athletic swingmen in the lineup. “The combination of Lamar and Isaac (Okoro) gives us an edge defensively,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. … G Rajon Rondo (right ankle sprain) last played on March 12 in Chicago. “He’s doing more and more, and progressing well,” Bickerstaff said. … F Dean Wade (right knee soreness) was inactive for the third game in a row.
Nuggets: Host Boston on Sunday night.
Cavaliers: Host Detroit on Saturday night.
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