The Denver Nuggets entered the All-Star break winners of six of their last seven while the Minnesota Timberwolves capped Thursday's two-game slate with a 119-111 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Denver tied a franchise record with 24 three-pointers made (one shy of NBA record) on 40 attempts en route to a 134-123 win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.
Nikola Jokic reaped the benefits of the shootout, tallying 30 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high 17 assists. The Nuggets big man recorded a triple-double with one minute, 54 seconds remaining in the second quarter. With the rare feat, Jokic became the fastest to record a triple-double in NBA history (14 minutes, 33 seconds of playing time).
Giannis Antetokounmpo also recorded a triple-double with 36 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. It was Antetokounmpo's ninth career triple-double, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most in Bucks history.
The Wolves rallied in the fourth quarter for their 36th win of the season, fifth-most in league at the All-Star break. Minnesota outscored the Lakers 35-20 in the final period thanks in part to Jamal Crawford's seven points in just over two minutes to begin the quarter.
With Karl-Anthony Towns (two of nine) and Jimmy Butler (seven of 20) struggling from the floor, veteran big man Taj Gibson stepped up with a season-high 28 points to pace the Timberwolves.
Jokic starred for the Nuggets but he got plenty of backcourt help from Jamal Murray and Gary Harris who combined for 54 points. Like Jokic (11 of 14), Murray (nine of 12) missed just three field goals on the night.
Isaiah Thomas' shooting woes continued despite a move from the Cavs to the Lakers. The guard was just three of 15 from the floor, finishing with seven points and four turnovers.
WOLVES HONOUR SAUNDERS
Minnesota honoured late head coach and executive Flip Saunders with a moving pre-game ceremony. Sam Cassell, Latrell Sprewell, Gary Trent, Troy Hudson, and Chauncey Billups were among Saunders' former players attending the game.
Saunders died October 25, 2015 after a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He is the winningest coach in Timberwolves history after serving two stints with the team – the first time from 1995-2005 and again in 2014-15.
Denver Nuggets 134-123 Milwaukee Bucks
Minnesota Timberwolves 119-111 Los Angeles Lakers
All-Star weekend begins Friday in Los Angeles with the Celebrity Game and the Rising Stars Challenge.