Game 7 … again: NBA’s miracle men pull off stunning turnaround as Kawhi’s Clippers implodeby AFP, with staff writers
The Denver Nuggets just don’t know when to quit.
And it’s a good thing they don’t, as the young Denver unit came back to force a Game 7 — for the second time this off-season — with a 111-98 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday (AEST).
Los Angeles blew a 16-point lead in Game 5 and a 19-point advantage in Game 6 as the Nuggets, led by Nikola Jokic, stayed alive in the Western Conference semi-finals series.
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Jokic finished with 34 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists, while Jamal Murray added 21 points, five boards, and five assists.
Paul George topscored for the Clippers with 33, while Kawhi Leonard added 25 points, but Doc Rivers’ men once again failed to close out the series.
“We don’t have pressure,” Jokic said. “All the pressure is on them. We have to play at a high level and give our best.
“To us it’s just another game seven. We’re going to go out there and play.”
It’s the fourth consecutive playoff series over two seasons in which the Nuggets have faced a seventh game. They are 5-0 in elimination games and have rallied from 16-point or worse deficits in the past three such games.
“The effort was amazing,” Jokic said. “We were down 16 last time, down 16 to Utah — we don’t want it but maybe we like it. We’re good at it.
“The whole team played well. It was an amazing game for us.”
The 25-year-old 7-foot (2.13m) Serbian centre hit 13-of-22 shots, 4-of-6 from 3-point range and 4-of-5 from the free throw line.
“I think it’s defence,” Jokic said. “When we get a couple stops, we are flying and the ball is moving. When we start running the offence, we’re a really good team.”
The Clippers, who have squandered a 3-1 series edge, have never reached a conference final in their 50-year history. They missed 10 shots in a row in the third period during a 17-0 Nuggets run.
“They came down and scored or got fouled in the third quarter and we couldn’t buy a basket,” Leonard said.
“We’ve just got to leave it all out on the floor, communicate and play hard on the defensive end.”
Game 7 will be played on Wednesday, September 16 (AEST).