In a game reminiscent of NBA playoff games from years ago the Nuggets held on to beat the Jazz 80-78 in a defensive battle to complete a historic comeback from down 3-1 in the first round series. Next up for Denver is the Western Conference semifinals against the L.A. Clippers starting Thursday night.
The Nuggets led by as many as 19 points in the game, but the Jazz battled back and the final outcome was determined thanks to Nikola Jokić’s offense and Gary Harris’ defense.
Jokić put the Nuggets ahead 80-78 with a turnaround shot over Utah’s Rudy Gobert with 27 seconds to play. On the ensuing possession Harris knocked the ball away from Donovan Mitchell, the Nuggets streaked up the court with it and then things really got crazy.
Denver simply needed to hold onto the ball and force Utah to foul. Instead Torrey Craig went up for a semi-contested layup and missed. Utah got the rebound, dashed back up the floor with the clock winding down and guard Mike Conley got a good look for three at the buzzer and the ball went half-way down before bouncing out as the Nuggets survived.
Jokić leads the way
While the past three games have been all about Jamal Murray’s exploits on offense, and rightfully so, Tuesday night Jokić led the way for Denver. Denver’s All-NBA center finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds and four assists to go along with the game-winning basket.
“Before the series started, I felt it was going to be an interesting series, but after 3-1, I didn’t think it would be this interesting. … We made a historic night.”Jokić said after the game.
With the win Denver became just the 12th team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit and rally to win a best-of-seven series, and the first since Cleveland did so in the 2016 NBA Finals against Golden State.
“The locker room was very subdued, very calm. No, of course, it was excitement. We’re the 12th team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit, and our guys should be proud of that, they should be excited. We get to extend our stay.”Nuggets head coach Michael Malone joked after his team’s thrilling win.
It also marks the first time the Nuggets have won a postseason season series in back-to-back seasons since the 1984-’86 seasons.
Denver won despite scoring just 15 points in both the third and fourth quarters. Utah also was held to 15 points in the second quarter. For comparison in Sunday’s Game 6 Murray alone scored 25 points in both the first and second halves.
- After scoring 50, 42 and 50 points in the previous three games Murray was held to 17 points on 7-for-21 shooting in Game 7. The only other Nuggets player to score in double figures was rookie Michael Porter Jr. who finished with 10 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists.
- Murray did finish with the most points ever for a Nuggets player in a playoff series. His 221 easily bested Jokić’s 190 from last year’s seven-game series against Portland.
- Mitchell led Utah with 22 points to go with 9 rebounds, but he also turned the ball over 9 times as well. Gobert had a big night too scoring 19 points and grabbing 18 rebounds.
- The Denver Post’s Sean Keller wrote about Jokić’s brilliant performance, noting that the Joker is one of only four players this century to have at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in every Game 7 he’s played. The other players on the list are: Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and LeBron James.
- Mark Kiszla of The Post turned his attention to Denver’s next opponent the Clippers, noting that if the Nuggets thought Utah was tough, the Clippers are something else entirely.
- At TheAthletic.com Joe Vardon wrote about how it was a Game 7 unlike any other, because it felt like it was OK to lose.
While Nuggets reporter Kendra Andrews wrote about the Nuggets advancing while playing in their third straight seven game series.
And Nick Kosmider said that by vanquishing the Game 7 demons from last year’s lost to the Trail Blazers, Denver now gets a valuable test against the Clippers.
Nuggets-Clippers series schedule
|Game 1||Clippers 120, Nuggets 97||Box score|
|Game 2||Nuggets 110, Clippers 101||Box score|
|Game 3||Clippers 113, Nuggets 107||Box score|
|Game 4||Clippers 96, Nuggets 85||Box score|
|Game 5||Nuggets 111, Clippers 105||Box score|
|Game 6||Nuggets 111, Clippers 98||Box score|
|Game 7||Nuggets 104, Clippers 89||Box score|
Nuggets-Jazz series results
|Game 1||Denver 135, Utah 125, OT||Box Score|
|Game 2||Utah 124, Denver 105||Box score|
|Game 3||Utah 124, Denver 87||Box score|
|Game 4||Utah 129, Denver 127||Box score|
|Game 5||Denver 117, Utah 107||Box score|
|Game 6||Denver 1197, Utah 107||Box score|
|Game 7||Denver 80, Utah 78||Box score|
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