LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Jamal Murray scored 30 points as the Denver Nuggets put on a show for returning fans on Tuesday with a 104-95 defeat of the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers.
Murray’s haul included five-of-11 three-pointers in a one-sided victory for the Nuggets, who roared into a 44-22 first quarter lead at Denver’s Ball Arena and never looked back.
Murray added six rebounds, four assists and three steals while Nikola Jokic delivered a towering all-round display, with 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Michael Porter Jr. had 27 points with 12 rebounds while Paul Millsap (10 points) also chipped in with a double-digit performance off the bench.
Denver’s third straight victory, which followed wins over the in-form Atlanta Hawks on Sunday and the New Orleans Pelicans last week, leaves them in fifth place in the Western Conference with 29 wins and one loss.
The game was watched by a crowd of just over 4,000 fans, mostly frontline workers and first responders. It was the first time fans have attended a Nuggets game since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted last year.
In on-court remarks following the win, Murray said the support had swept Denver to Tuesday’s victory.
The Sixers, meanwhile, were left reflecting on a second straight loss following their 10-point defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers last week.
Australian star Ben Simmons was restricted to just 11 points while Tobias Harris added 12. Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers scoring with 13 points from the bench.
Charlotte 114, Washington 104
Phoenix 117, Atlanta 110
Denver 104, Philadelphia 95
Orlando 103, LA Clippers 96
Elsewhere on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Clippers saw their six-game unbeaten streak halt with an upset home loss to the Orlando Magic.
Kawhi Leonard’s 28-point display was not enough to stop the Clippers from slumping to a 103-96 defeat against an Orlando side that relied on big contributions from the bench, with Terrence Ross (15 points), Otto Porter Jr. (13) and Mo Bamba all making double figures.
In Arizona meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns were 117-110 winners over the Atlanta Hawks.
Devin Booker finished with 21 points for Phoenix while team-mate Deandre Ayton had 13 points and 14 rebounds.