DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic posted his 19th triple-double of the season by halftime and the Denver Nuggets rode a 49-point first quarter to a 146-112 rout of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
Jokic finished with 20 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds. It was the second time in his career the big man has notched a triple-double by halftime. Jokic took a seat late in the third quarter with the Western Conference leaders ahead by a large margin.
Denver led 49-19 after the first quarter — including a 32-2 run — as the Nuggets shot 79.2% from the floor. The 49 points tied for the second-most in a quarter in the franchise’s NBA history. Michael Porter Jr. led the way by scoring 19 of his 30 points in the opening period.
Aaron Gordon added 24 for the Nuggets, who set season highs in points and assists (44).
Anthony Edwards and Luka Garza both had 19 points for Minnesota. The frustration for the Timberwolves flashed with D’Angelo Russell getting ejected after picking up two technical fouls in third quarter. He had 10 points.
Murray missed the game Tuesday due to inflammation in his right knee. He was sidelined all last season as he recovered from a torn ACL in his left knee.
Timberwolves: F Kyle Anderson was sidelined with back spasms. ... G Austin Rivers served the second of his three-game suspension for his part in last Friday’s fight between Minnesota and the Orlando Magic.
Nuggets: F Zeke Nnaji was out with a sprained right shoulder. ... G Bruce Brown appeared to turn his ankle early in the game, but returned and finished with nine points. ... It was Jokic’s 95th career triple-double.
Nuggets guard Bones Hyland didn’t play as his name surfaces in trade speculation. The trade deadline is Thursday.
“Bones is one of my favorite players,” Porter told the media contingent during the morning shootaround. “I wish he would stay here. I wish it could be figured out.”
Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns joined the team on the trip, but there’s no timetable for his return from a strained right calf.
“It’s good for him to get back in the mindset of being around the team, start to fall into the rhythm of what that is,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “Just having him around has been great.”