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‘NBA’s best duo’ Murray and Jokic put Nuggets top of West

Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were described as the best duo in the NBA after they combined to guide the Denver Nuggets to the top of the Western Conference on the former’s return from injury.

Having missed seven games due to a right knee strain, Murray returned for Saturday’s dominant 142-110 win over the Atlanta Hawks, registering 16 points and six assists in just 21 minutes on the court.

Jokic, meanwhile, had his 25th triple-double of the season despite being rested for the entirety of the fourth quarter, putting up 19 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.

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Speaking after the game, Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic said Murray’s return had made the difference, saying: “He’s a tremendous player.

“Him and Jokic are the best duo in the league and it’s tough to guard them. When Jokic needs to find a guy to score, he’s got Murray and that’s basically it.”

The result lifted the reigning NBA champions to the top of the Western Conference, putting them one game ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who face the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

The Nuggets host the Wolves in a huge matchup at Ball Arena on Wednesday, which could prove decisive in the battle to be the West’s top seed.

Asked about the importance of that game, Murray said: “Of course it matters. It’s the number one seed… You get the home-court advantage for the whole of the playoffs.”

With just four regular-season games remaining for Denver, head coach Michael Malone will continue to manage Murray’s minutes to ensure he enters the postseason in peak condition.

“The way it used to be, the season ended on a Wednesday night and you were playing on Saturday,” Malone said.

“The way it is now, you finish and you’ve got a week off. So, I think that’s why it’s really important for Jamal to play and find a rhythm.”

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