Nuggets score statement win over Cavaliers

DENVER -- The Nuggets' drive to make the playoffs continued Wednesday night with a convincing 126-113 win over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers at the Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets moved 1 1/2 games in front of the Portland Trail Blazers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets have been to the playoffs since the 2013-14 season.

Wilson Chandler returned from a four-game absence because of a pulled groin to score 18 points and also provide solid defense on LeBron James as the four-time league MVP was held to just 18 points.

After the game, coach Mike Malone was especially pleased with his team’s unselfish play.

“It’s a quality win and, obviously, this time of the year, it couldn’t come at a better time," Malone said. "What I loved about the win offensive was the 35 assists to only six turnovers. The ball was moving. I mean, we found the open man all night long.”

The Nuggets had six players score in double figures. Besides Chandler, Gary Harris scored 21, Will Barton added 20, Kenneth Faried chipped in with 17, Nikola Jokic had 16 and rookie Jamal Murray posted 15 points off of the bench.

The Nuggets play Friday at Indiana, beginning a stretch of six of seven games on the road.