DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 27 points and 12 rebounds, reserve Monte Morris tied a career high with 20 points and the injury-depleted Denver Nuggets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 105-99 on Monday night.
Morris gave the Nuggets the lead for good on a 3-pointer with 5:22 remaining. Juancho Hernangomez followed with another 3-pointer to give Denver some separation in a tightly contested game that featured 15 lead changes. Neither team opened more than an eight-point advantage.
Mason Plumlee added 12 points and 10 rebounds in his first start of the season for the Nuggets, who were missing Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and Will Barton due to injuries. Jamal Murray also was dealing with bruised right shin and took a hard hit on a screen just before halftime. He finished with 16 points.
Despite a dislocated right pointer finger, Memphis guard Mike Conley had 19 points and six assists. He also went to the locker room in the third quarter with what appeared to be a leg injury, but soon returned.
Conley pulled the Southwest Division-leading Grizzlies to 98-97 with 3:44 left on a three-point play, but the Nuggets responded with baskets from Jokic and Murray.
This game was a little more high scoring than their Nov. 7 contest, when the Grizzlies won 89-87. In that game, Jokic attempted just one shot.
Jokic was pretty much hitting everything in the first half, including a shot when he was inbounding the ball toward the rim with 2.9 seconds remaining before halftime.
Of course, it didn’t count.
Grizzlies: Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has plenty of ties to Denver. He went to high school in the city and his father was the coach of the Nuggets for parts of three seasons. “I have a lot of friends, a lot of family here at the game,” Bickerstaff said. ... The Grizzlies had a stretch in the first half where they hit 11 straight shots.
Nuggets: Morris had a 3-pointer bounce on the rim and the top of the glass about six times before dropping. ... The Nuggets returned home after a 3-2 trip.
YOUNG AT HEART
On Monday, the Nuggets signed veteran guard Nick Young under the injury hardship relief exception granted by the NBA. He didn’t get in the game against the Grizzlies, but the team plans on getting Young up to speed quickly. Coach Michael Malone said Young brings a little more of a long-range threat to the floor.
Young has been a 37.6 percent shooter from 3-point land for Golden State, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Clippers and Washington.
“Whatever uniform he’s worn, he’s a proven scorer and a proven shooter,” Malone said.
Grizzlies: Host Portland on Wednesday.
Nuggets: Face Oklahoma City on Friday in the second of a four-game homestand.