Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets celebrates during the second half of an NBA victory over Washington

Washington (AFP) - Nikola Jokic scored a season-high 42 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to power the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets over Washington 113-104 on Sunday.

The Serbian superstar center, a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, made 15-of-20 shots from the floor and 12-of-14 free throws while adding eight assists, three blocks and a steal against the host Wizards.

“It’s never easy. Not 42,” Jokic said. “It’s just a mindset. We needed this win. For us, every game is a must-win game.”

Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. each added 19 points for the Nuggets (30-14), who rose within a game of the Western Conference lead, while Kyle Kuzma’s 17 points led Washington (7-35).

Jokic’s wife and daughter attended the game, bringing special joy to his performance.

“It’s amazing. My family means everything to me. It’s something that I’m really proud of,” he said. “Wherever they go, whatever they do, I know they’re on my side.”

NBA overall leader Boston, paced by 32 points from Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis plus Derrick White’s 21 points and 12 rebounds, won 116-107 at Houston.

“Early on I just got a lot of open looks,” said Porzingis, who scored 15 points in the first quarter. “Missed the first two but stayed aggressive. I knew they were going to fall sooner or later.”

The victory came two nights after Denver edged Boston 102-100, delivering the Celtics’ first home defeat of the season.

“We know if we want to be a championship-calibre team we cannot lose multiple games in a row,” Porzingis said.

“We had a tough one the other night against Denver at home, another championship-calibre team. We came up a little bit short and took some lessons from that one and wanted to bounce back tonight.”

The Celtics improved the NBA’s best record to 33-10, stretching their lead atop the Eastern Conference to 3.5 games over Milwaukee.

Boston’s Jayson Tatum added 18 points and Jaylen Brown had a triple double for the Celtics with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Turkish center Alperen Sengun had a triple double for the Rockets with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

Phoenix’s Kevin Durant scored 40 points on 18-of-25 shooting to spark the Suns over visiting Indiana 117-110, the Pacers playing without star guard Tyrese Haliburton over sore hamstring concerns.

Devin Booker added 26 points for the Suns and Bradley Beal had 25 points as Phoenix improved to 24-18, level with Dallas for sixth in the West.

- LA’s 22-0 closing run -

James Harden had 24 points and a game-high 10 assists while Russell Westbrook added 23 points and nine rebounds off the bench to spark an incredible fightback 125-114 victory for the Los Angeles Clippers over visiting Brooklyn.

The Nets opened a 16-0 lead at the start only to surrender the final 22 points and lose, LA outscoring Brooklyn 41-15 in the fourth quarter.

“We came out and competed all night long. We never gave up,” Westbrook said. “We fought adversity and came out with a win so I’m really proud of our guys.”

Kawhi Leonard added 21 points for the Clippers, who won for the eighth time in 10 games, improving to 27-14 and fourth in the West.

Paolo Banchero scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while German forward Franz Wagner added 19 points to lead the Orlando Magic over visiting Miami 105-87.

At 23-20, the Magic pulled within a game of the Heat for seventh in the East.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has been diagnosed with a concussion and entered the league’s concussion protocols. It happened on Saturday in the fourth quarter of a loss to Cleveland when he drew a charging foul but took an elbow to the face.

There’s no timetable for his return, which depends on him completing the NBA return-to-play recovery process.