Nuggets stun Clippers, enter Eastern final

Murray scores a game high 40 points in game seven

By   |  Published: 16th Sep 2020  6:48 pm
Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) is pressured by Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) as he drives with the ball during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game. (Photo: AP)

Los Angeles: Jamal Murray scored a game-high 40 points and Nikola Jokic had a triple-double as the Denver Nuggets stunned the Los Angeles Clippers 104-89 in game seven to reach their first Western Conference finals in 11 years.

The underdog Nuggets became the first team in NBA history to rally from a 3-1 series deficit twice in the same postseason.

Jokic completed his triple-double by the third quarter of Tuesday night’s contest in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Florida, finishing with 16 points, 13 assists and 22 rebounds.

His rebound count is the most by a Nuggets player in an NBA playoff game, breaking his old record of 19. Denver’s dynamic duo combined for 56 points.

“We are just improving. We have talks, we have fights, everything. We are like a couple,” Jokic said of playing with Murray.

An odd couple for sure. A Serbian and a Canadian pair that has engineered the biggest upsets of the 2020 postseason so far.

Denver will once again be the underdogs when they face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals beginning Friday.

“Nobody wants us here,” insisted Jokic.

But Murray issued a warning for people who think the Lakers’ juggernaut is going to steamroller them.

“They got to worry about us too,” Murray said.

The Nuggets found themselves down by 12 in the first half. They also trailed 61-54 with 10:50 left in the third when they stepped it up and went on a 35-13 run to compile a 15-point lead in the fourth.

“Next is Lakers, another tough opponent,” Jokic said. “But we are going to be out there having fun. It is simple for us, effort and energy.”

Kawhi Leonard managed just 14 points and Paul George finished with 10. Leonard shot six of 22 while George was four of 16 from the floor.

In the Eastern Conference finals, Bam Adebayo made a clutch block with 2.5 seconds left in overtime as the Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics 117-114 in the opening game of the series.

Adebayo leaped high to take what appeared to be an easy dunk away from Celtics star Jayson Tatum to preserve the Heat’s slim lead, 116-114.

Adebayo then capped the scoring by sinking a free throw at the other end.

Tatum, who finished with a game high 30 points, missed a desperation 29-foot three-pointer at the buzzer.

“He made a great play,” Tatum said of Adebayo’s block. “That’s all it is. He made a good play, can’t do anything about it.”

Game two is Thursday night in Orlando.

Goran Dragic scored 29 points, Jae Crowder had 22 and Butler finished with 20 for the Heat, who eliminated the Celtics from the playoffs in 2011 and 2012.