Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, holds off Portland Trail...

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, holds off Portland Trail Blazers guard Delano Banton, center, and forward Jabari Walker, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. Credit: AP/Steve Dykes

PORTLAND, Ore. — Nikola Jokic had 29 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists for his 17th triple-double of the season, Michael Porter scored 34 points and had 12 rebounds and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 127-112 on Friday night.

Collin Gillespie made all four of his 3-point attempts off the bench for the Nuggets and finished with 18 points.

“In this league, you have to win the games you’re supposed to win on paper,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “And I think overall, we’ve done an outstanding job of beating the teams that are below .500. ... We have to start our playoff push now. Not that we’re going to go 25-0 the rest of the way, but we have to have that mindset.”

Jerami Grant scored 25 points for the Trail Blazers. Deandre Ayton added 22 points and Anfernee Simons had 21.

Portland led by 5 points in the opening minutes, but Denver controlled it most of the way thanks to a sizable shooting disparity. The Nuggets shot 57.3% from the field to the Blazers’ 44.3% and outrebounded Portland 43-31.

“For the most part, I thought we played pretty good,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “That team is better than we are. They’re the world champions.”

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Portland Trail Blazers guard Matisse Thybulle, right, blocks the shots...

Portland Trail Blazers guard Matisse Thybulle, right, blocks the shots of Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic as guard Dalano Banton, left, defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. Credit: AP/Steve Dykes

Nuggets: Travel to Golden State to face the Warriors on Sunday.

Trail Blazers: Home against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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