Ramon Sessions, Gerald Henderson and Jefferson all had a chance to make things easier down the stretch for the Bobcats, but each of them could go only 1-of-2 from the foul line during the closing 21 seconds.
That gave Denver an opportunity to tie it at the buzzer, but Timofey Mozgov could not convert his 3-point attempt.
Charlotte had lost its previous two games and the Nuggets had won their last two.
Jefferson added 11 rebounds while Henderson had 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Denver was paced by Randy Foye with 33 points and Evan Fournier with 19. Ty Lawson missed the game with a strained shoulder and his replacement, Nate Robinson, left the contest in the first quarter after taking a fall under the basket. He did not return.
Charlotte shot 42 free throws to just 13 for the Nuggets.