DENVER — Will Barton put the Denver Nuggets on his back in the final minutes of Friday night’s win. Sore back and all.
Gary Harris had 21 points and Barton added 11 of his 19 in overtime, helping the Nuggets beat the New Orleans Pelicans 117-111.
Barton said he was still feeling the effects of a back bruise that sidelined him on Wednesday. But it didn’t matter in crunch time.
He went 4 for 4 from the field in the extra period and had all of the Nuggets’ points in the frame until Jamal Murray’s two free throws made it 116-110 with 25 seconds remaining.
“Will Barton’s a gamer,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “In the first half you could tell his back was bothering him. You could tell it wasn’t him. It was not Will Barton. As that second half went on, he loosened up and got his swag back.
“And in overtime, he brought it home.”
The Nuggets, who trailed by as many as 18, improved to 11-2 at home.
Trey Lyles also had 19 points and Nikola Jokic returned from a seven-game absence with a left ankle sprain and had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Murray added 15 points.
“We realized we had to win that game,” Barton said. “Guys just buckled in, strapped up — everybody just came to play and got stops.”
DeMarcus Cousins led New Orleans with 29 points and Anthony Davis had 28 points and 12 rebounds. Jrue Holiday added 25 points.
The Nuggets erased a 10-point deficit in the final quarter as Mason Plumlee’s consecutive dunks put Denver up 100-96 with 2:47 remaining.
In the final minute of regulation, Cousins converted a three-point play to put the Pelicans up 104-102 before Plumlee tied the game with another dunk seconds later.
Torrey Craig then blocked Holiday’s jumper at the buzzer to force overtime.
“We didn’t execute down the stretch,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “We didn’t play hard enough down the stretch. They made the plays and we didn’t. It’s that simple.”
Denver welcomed back Jokic with a loud roar as he came onto the court with 5:32 left in the opening quarter. He was then immediately welcomed back by Davis.
Davis beat Jokic off the dribble for a dunk-and-one in the first before stuffing a short hook shot a few minutes later. The last time Davis and Jokic shared the court was Nov. 17 when Jokic inadvertently head butted Davis, giving him a concussion.
Denver was 3-4 without Jokic.
“It’s still a little sore,” Jokic said of his ankle. “That’s no big deal, I think.”
Davis had 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks in the opening quarter to help push New Orleans out to a 33-20 lead. He slowed down in the second, but the Pelicans continued to build their lead to 58-40.
The Nuggets scored six straight in the final 1:01 of the half to cut the deficit to 58-46.
Davis appeared to sprain his ankle late in the fourth when he stepped on Plumlee’s foot. He stayed in the game but looked to be favoring it.
Asked about it after the game, Davis said: “It’s good. I don’t know.”
Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay left the game in the second quarter with a sprained ankle. He did not return.
“I don’t think it’s anything really serious or sinister,” Malone said. “I think it’s just a bad ankle sprain and hopefully we’ll have him back for practice on Sunday.”
Pelicans: Cousins and Holiday each hit five 3s. … New Orleans had 19 turnovers.
Nuggets: Craig made his first career start and scored six points to go along with his game-saving block. . The Nuggets held a moment of silence before the game after last week’s passing of former player Roland “Fatty” Taylor. Taylor, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, was 71.
Pelicans: Will continue their four-game trip in Washington on Tuesday night.
Nuggets: Will travel to face Oklahoma on Monday night.