DENVER – Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap helped fuel a 24-0 run in the third quarter as the Denver Nuggets rallied for a 113-104 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
Murray finished with 33 points, including 13 in the pivotal third quarter. Millsap scored 14 of his 15 points during the third in his return from a strained quadriceps.
Trailing 69-50 with 9:18 left in the third, the Nuggets stormed back as they held the Magic scoreless for more than six minutes. By the time the pivotal quarter was over, Denver had an 84-76 lead and was on its way to an eighth straight win over the Magic.
Nikola Jokic added 18 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.
After the decisive run by Denver, the Magic regained their composure and sliced it to 98-96 with 4:30 remaining. But Murray hit a fade-away and a 3-pointer to extend the lead.
For a half, the Magic looked like the more energetic team despite a seven-point loss in Utah the night before. But then they began to run out of steam after halftime. Orlando went 5 of 23 from the floor in the third quarter. The Magic lost their cool in the quarter, too, with coach Steve Clifford and guard D.J. Augustin each drawing technical fouls.
Nikola Vucevic scored 20 for the Magic, while Augustin added 18.
Orlando erupted for 60 points in the opening half against the defensive-minded Nuggets, who entered allowing a league-low 101.7 points per game.
The spelling of their first names may be the same, but the pronunciation remains vastly different between Denver's Nikola (ni-KOLA) and Orlando's Nikola (KNEE-coal-uh).
It was quite an entertaining showdown between the two big men.
Jokic finished a rebound shy of his 33rd career triple-double.
There was a comical moment early in the first quarter when Murray tried to tip the ball away from a defender and accidentally knocked it into the Magic hoop. Vucevic happened to be in the vicinity and received credit for the basket.
Murray just stared in disbelief for a moment.
Magic: Fell to 1-3 on the second night of a back-to-back this season. ... F Aaron Gordon picked up a technical late in the fourth.
Nuggets: Millsap, who missed two games with his quadriceps injury, finished with 12 rebounds. ... Murray was 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
FAN OF FULTZ
Count Nuggets coach Michael Malone as a big fan of Markelle Fultz. Malone appreciates the guard's ability to make the most of his opportunity in Orlando after being a No. 1 pick by Philadelphia.
"I root for kids like that," Malone said. “What he went through I'm sure wasn't easy for him.”
As a coach, Malone is exhausted following a recent stretch that included eight games in 12 days.
"If I'm this tired, imagine how our players are," he said.
That's why Malone's managing their court time by nixing shootarounds.
"There are a lot of ways to approach load management," Malone said.
Magic: At Portland on Friday to finish a four-game trip.
Nuggets: Host Minnesota on Friday. Won five straight over the Timberwolves.