Flights home from the NBA’s bubble are planned whenever a team is on the cusp of elimination, just in case they are needed. Denver are in no hurry to board that plane.
The never-say-die Nuggets on Sunday pulled off another season-saving comeback — and, after rallying from 19 points down with 22 minutes remaining, they will see the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 today for a berth in the Western Conference finals.
Nikola Jokic had 34 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists as the Nuggets topped the Clippers 111-98 to even their semi-final series at 3-3.
The Nuggets are trying to become the first team in NBA history to rally from a pair of 3-1 deficits in the same post-season, after doing so against Utah in the first round.
“I’m running out of adjectives, superlatives, whatever you want to call it to speak on our team,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That is a tough, resilient group of you-know-whats. I love our team. I love our team. I love our toughness.”
Jamal Murray scored 21 for Denver, who got 16 from Gary Harris, 13 from Michael Porter Jr and 10 from Monte Morris.
The Nuggets outscored the Clippers 62-27 over a dizzying 20-minute stretch of the second half, turning everything around.
“I don’t know how we did it, to be honest,” Jokic said. “That’s an amazing team. They are really talented, well-coached. They’re really scary.”
Paul George had 33 points, Kawhi Leonard scored 25 and Lou Williams had 14 for the Clippers, who are now 0-7 in games where they could clinch a trip to the conference finals.
The Clippers were outscored by 29 after halftime, their worst such deficit of the season.
“It’s frustrating,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Listen, when you decide to be a coach it’s not going to be roses every day. We clearly have the right formula as far as how we’re playing, and then we keep losing it.”
The Nuggets were down 16 at halftime — the fourth time out of six games in the series when they trailed by at least that many in a game — and eventually fell behind by as many as 19 in the third quarter.
“I just think we’re a really good team,” Murray said. “It shouldn’t get to this point.”
Of course, the Nuggets flourish when they are in trouble.
They saved their season in Game 5 of the opening round by rallying from 15 points down in the third quarter against Utah to set the tone for a rally from a 3-1 series deficit.
They saved themselves again in Game 5 of this series, getting down by 16 before coming back to save the season again. It was more of the same on Sunday.
George hit a three-pointer shortly after halftime for a 19-point lead and Leonard made a pair of free throws with 8 minutes, 27 seconds left in the third quarter to put the Clippers up 73-55.
That is apparently when the Nuggets decided it was time to get going.
Over the next 10 minutes, the Nuggets outscored the Clippers 30-8. Denver had eight different players score in that stretch, Murray and Morris scoring seven apiece, and the big deficit became an 85-81 lead with 10:16 left.
“It’s not that we don’t respect them,” George said. “We respect the opponent. They got this far for a reason. They’ve been together for a while, so they’re a connected group. They’ve been here. They’ve been a part of a lot of Game 7s.”
Another one awaits.
“It’s going to sound weird or funny or whatever, but we don’t care,” Jokic said. “We’re just going to go there and have fun.”
Taiwanese-American Jeremy Lin has signed for the Golden State Warriors’ G League affiliate, Santa Cruz Warriors, ahead of the 2020-2021 season, the team said on Saturday. Lin spent the 2019-2020 season with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Beijing Ducks and guided them to the semi-finals, before they lost to eventual champions Guangdong Southern Tigers. He left the team in September. The 32-year-old began his NBA career with the Warriors in 2010 before joining the New York Knicks, where his strong performance in the 2011-2012 season gave rise to the term “Linsanity.” Lin also had spells with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets,
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