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Nuggets win third straight behind strong defensive performance

Credit-Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports

DENVER — Jamal Murray was still 20 years old and Nikola Jokic was starting at power forward the last time the Nuggets held an opponent under 100 points. On Jan. 27, Denver limited the Dallas Mavericks to 89 points in a what many might not have considered an aesthetically pleasing two-point win.

Two months later, the Nuggets came close to accomplishing that feat again until the Pacers scored a handful of garbage-time buckets. Denver locked down on the defensive end to beat Indiana 107-104.

Will Barton scored Denver's first nine points of the game. He was hot early, but after both teams settled in Nikola Jokic dominated. The Serbian center, who's been on a tear for the last month, scored 30 points on 17 shots and handed out seven assists. He shot the ball especially well from deep, knocking down 4-6 three-point shots. Jokic is shooting a tick under 40 percent from three-point land this season, a marked improvement from his first two years in the league.

The Nuggets led by as many as 14 points in the second half, but the Pacers were able to cut the deficit to four points by the start of the fourth quarter. Denver had to sweat it out — a common theme lately — but picked up its third consecutive to move just a 1/2 game behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth and final playoff seed and one game behind the seventh-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in the West. There are only four games remaining in the Nuggets' season, and two come against the Timberwolves.

Denver limited Indiana to 46.9 percent shooting. The Nuggets only shot 46.9 percent from the field themselves but did enough on the opposite end to win.

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