CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic each scored 30 points, and the Denver Nuggets held off the Charlotte Hornets 117-112 on Tuesday night to snap a two-game slide.
Jokic had 11 rebounds and six assists. Porter knocked down six 3-pointers as the Nuggets withstood a furious late rally led by Devonte Graham, who scored 19 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, including five 3-pointers.
Jokic did most of his damage at the foul line, where he made 16 of 17 shots.
Terry Rozier, who had 43 points in Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, added 21 points for the Hornets, who failed again to secure a spot in the play-in tournament. Charlotte would still clinch a spot if the Chicago Bulls lost to the Brooklyn Nets later Tuesday.
The Nuggets jumped all over the Hornets early, building a 33-13 lead behind Nokic and Porter, who combined for 24 points in the game’s first nine minutes. But the Hornets would battle back to cut the lead to three at halftime with a lift from Graham, who returned after missing the last four games with knee soreness.
Denver stretched its lead to 12 in the fourth quarter before Graham cut the lead to 107-106 with less than 2 minutes to play with a long 3. But Denver got a layup from JaMychal Green and a 3-pointer from Facundo Campazzo to pull away.
Nuggets: Were outrebounded by the smaller Hornets 49-38.
Hornets: Miles Bridges (healthy and safety protocols), Gordon Hayward (right foot sprain) and Cody Martin (left ankle sprain) remained out.
Hornets coach James Borrego was ejected for the first time in his career after disputing a call. It happened when LaMelo Ball’s pass hit teammate Jalen McDaniels in the face and then sailed out of bounds. Officials initially ruled the ball went off a Nuggets player, but then quickly changed the call.
Borrego walked on the court and said something to the official and was assessed two technical fouls and then tossed from the game.
Nuggets: At Timberwolves on Thursday night.
Hornets: Host final regular-season game Thursday night against the Clippers.