DENVER/ PHILADELPHIA — Nikola Jokic had 28 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, Michael Porter Jr. scored a season-best 27 and the Denver Nuggets overcame the loss of point guard Jamal Murray to beat the Chicago Bulls 123-101.
Aaron Gordon had 15 points and 12 rebounds for defending NBA champion Denver, which has won all four of its home games.
“Tried to adapt to the environment,” Jackson said of playing with the starters. “Just figure out how to not mess it up and then be aggressive in the spots that I can be aggressive in. That group really knows how to play off each other, so you have to be in the proper spacing and it makes it easy,” Jackson added according to AP.
Elsewhere, Joel Embiid had 26 points and 11 rebounds, Kelly Oubre scored 25 points as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Phoenix Suns 112-100 for their fourth straight win.
With Bradley Beal (back spasms) and Devin Booker (sprained left ankle) sitting out, the Suns faltered in the fourth and lost their third straight game. Kevin Durant kept the Suns within striking range until late with 31 points. He made 12 of 14 free throws.
Tyrese Maxey overcame a slow start and had 22 points and 10 assists. Tobias Harris added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia will go as far as Embiid and Maxey, who turned 23, will take them and neither one could get going in the first half. They combined for just a 7 of 23 effort from the floor.
Embiid was also whistled for a flagrant foul when he socked Jusuf Nurkic in the face with an elbow. Maxey bounced one into double coverage that led to a Suns bucket.
The 76ers were instead steadied by another solid outing from Harris and Oubre.
Elsewhere, Golden State star Stephen Curry drained the winning layup with two-tenths of a second remaining as the Warriors opened the NBA’s new in-season tournament with an explosive, controversial 141-139 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In a game featuring 23 lead changes, it was tied at 139-139 when Curry drove to the basket and rose to bank in a shot. But teammate Draymond Green, whose hand was near the rim, was called for offensive goaltending — only for the call to be overturned to allow the Warriors to celebrate the win.
Curry finished with a game-high 30 points, connecting on five of 10 three-pointers and nine of 15 overall.
Green scored 15 points with five rebounds and Chris Paul handed out 13 assists.
Lu Dort scored 29 points and Chet Holmgren added 24 for Oklahoma City, who were without leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, sidelined by a knee injury.
Even without him, the Thunder weren’t about to go quietly. The Warriors led by two at halftime, but Dort scored 11 points early in the third to put Oklahoma City up by five before the Warriors battled back, knotting the score at 106-106 heading into the fourth.
“They took it to us the whole game,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who admitted he feared the worst when officials reviewed the interference call on Green.
From courtside, Kerr said, Curry’s shot looked good.
“When I saw the replay on the scoreboard, it looked like Draymond touched the rim,” Kerr said. “And I guess it’s just a determination of did it affect the shot.
“I was sort of expecting them to overturn (Curry’s basket), but obviously they allowed it and we escaped.”
It was among the most dramatic moments on the first night of the new Cup-style tournament that commissioner Adam Silver hopes will fire players’ competitive instincts and give added interest to games early in the season.
All games in the new tournament count in the regular season standings except for the final on December 9 in Las Vegas.
The 30 clubs were drawn into six groups of five, and each team will play a total of four tournament games this month to decide six group winners and two wildcard qualifiers for the quarter-finals.
The first win of the new competition went to the Indiana Pacers, who were fuelled by 27 points from Myles Turner in a 121-116 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tyrese Haliburton added 18 points and 13 assists for the Pacers, who led by as many as 18 but had to claw back after the Cavs, led by 38 points and nine assists from Donovan Mitchell, grabbed a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.