ORLANDO, Fla. — To build a long winning streak, sometimes you need a little luck.
The Denver Nuggets took sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with a 124-118 overtime victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
"They did everything they could to win the game and we got lucky," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "We'll take it, but we definitely got lucky."
Jamal Murray scored 31 points and the Nuggets shut down the Magic in overtime for their seventh straight victory.
After Terence Ross tied it for Orlando with a 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets outscored the Magic 9-2 until Nikola Vucevic dunked for the Magic's first field goal of the overtime session with just 1:04 left.
Ross' open jumper — when the Magic needed three points in the final seconds — was one of the reasons Malone called it "one of our worst performances of the year."
Murray wouldn't go quite that far.
"We didn't play our best, but they played really good," said Murray, who also had eight assists. "They had a great game, and they're a really underrated team, especially at home. They were making a lot of shots, more than we expected. It seemed like everybody was hitting."
The Magic kept up with the Nuggets with 57 per cent shooting through three quarters, but made only 10 of 34 shots in the fourth quarter and overtime.
"I thought we played well offensively. Defensively we just couldn't get a stop," said Aaron Gordon, who had 19 points.
"Obviously our offence was more than good enough," Magic coach Steve Clifford said. "We competed hard, but at the end of the day we couldn't guard the high pick and roll the whole game, couldn't get a handle on it."
Paul Millsap added 18 points for Denver, which shot 55 per cent for the game. Center Nikola Jokic had 12 points, eight rebounds and 13 assists.
Evan Fournier led Orlando with 26 points before fouling out in overtime and then drawing a second technical foul. Fournier thought the Nuggets' luck took a different form, resulting in their 37 foul shots to Orlando's eight.
"It's terrible, man, and that's why it's frustrating," he said. "We're a team that never complains and we never get the calls. Then we start to say something and then we get the technicals. What is that?"
Vucevic added 24 points and 15 rebounds for Orlando, which made 20 of 43 3-pointers during regulation against the NBA's best 3-point defence. But the Magic made only one of nine shots in overtime and missed all six of their 3-pointers.
The Nuggets made nine of their first 12 shots and broke out to a 22-10 lead, but Gordon scored 13 straight Magic points, including three 3-pointers, to get Orlando back in it. Neither team led by more than six points during the final three quarters.
Denver took a five-point lead in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, but Ross tied it 112-112. Murray missed a short jumper just before the buzzer, taking the game into overtime.
AFTER NOT REVIEWING THE PLAY. . .
The crowd erupted when a replay showed Murray stepping out of bounds with the ball just before being fouled with 20.8 seconds left in overtime. Referee Marc Davis explained: "As per Rule 13, Section A, No. 17, an out-of-bounds may be reviewed if it is called or the officials have doubt as to whether the ball was out of bounds. It was never called out of bounds, and so there was no trigger. So it wasn't a reviewable matter."
Nuggets: G Gary Harris missed the entire game after injuring his right hip in the first quarter Monday night at Toronto. The Nuggets have not ruled him out for Friday night's game at Charlotte. ... The Nuggets missed 14 free throws, six more than the Magic attempted.
Magic: A day after holding the Heat to just five free throws in a game at Miami, the Magic shot no free throws until Jonathan Isaac made two at 9:13 of the fourth quarter. ... Ross came off the bench for 17 points, his average over the last seven games.
Nuggets: At Charlotte on Friday night.
Magic: Host Indiana on Friday night.
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