Nikola Jokic was bloodied early, upset late, and ultimately boiled over at a critical time for the Nuggets.
It wasn’t what cold-shooting Denver needed in the heat of a playoff race.
Jokic shook off a bloody nose in the first quarter but his temper at a non-call got him ejected late in the fourth. It was the final blow for Denver in a 95-90 loss to the visiting Wizards on Sunday night.
Jokic finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds but was in the locker room for the final 3:36, when the Wizards took control, leaving the Nuggets struggling down the stretch.
“Can’t get tossed,” Denver head coach Michael Malone said. “I don’t care what they do to him, how bad the refereeing is, foul call, no foul call. It doesn’t matter. He’s too valuable to this team.”
Tony Brown Jr. scored 24 points, Thomas Bryant and Jabari Parker each had 20 for the Wizards. Washington held Denver to 28 points in the second half to finish 2-2 on its road trip.
Denver lost for the third time in five games and fell a game behind the Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets lead Houston by 2½ games in the race for the No. 2 seed in the West.
Clippers 113, Grizzlies 96: Danilo Gallinari had 27 points and 15 rebounds, and host Los Angeles routed Memphis for its 13th win in 15 games.
Hawks 136, Bucks 135: Trae Young grabbed a deflected inbounds pass and made a last-second jumper to lift the Hawks to an overtime win in Atlanta. Justin Anderson had 24 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta, and John Collins finished with 23 points and 12 boards. Milwaukee played without Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton because of injuries. Antetokounmpo, one of the favorites for the NBA MVP award, was held out becasue of a right ankle sprain. Middleton has a sore groin.
Mavericks 106, Thunder 103: Trey Burke had 25 points and eight assists, Dwight Powell scored the winning basket on a dunk with 21 seconds left and visiting Dallas, playing without rookie Luka Doncic, stunned Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook had 25 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his 30th triple-double of the season, and Paul George had 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who had sealed a Western Conference playoff spot Saturday when the Kings lost. Doncic missed the game with a right thigh contusion.
Kings 113, Spurs 106: Buddy Hield scored 26 points and Sacramento snapped an 11-game skid in San Antonio. The Kings had lost two straight and were playing less than 24 hours after being eliminated from the postseason in a loss to Houston on Saturday afternoon. That loss clinched the Spurs’ 22nd straight postseason appearance.
Lakers 130, Pelicans 102: Alex Caruso scored a personal-high 23 points in just his 20th NBA game of the season, and visiting Los Angeles beat New Orleans in a game missing both teams’ biggest names: the Lakers’ LeBron James and the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis. The Lakers decided to shelve James for their final six games because of a sore left groin. Davis has missed three games with back spasms.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Wizards-outlast-struggling-Nuggets-13731105.php.