NBA notebook: Denver beats Clippers, forces Game 7 on Tuesday night
Denver beats Clippers, forces Game 7 on Tuesday night
Flights home from the NBA’s bubble are planned whenever a team is on the cusp of elimination, just in case they’re needed.
Denver is in no hurry to board that plane.
The never-say-die Nuggets pulled off another season-saving comeback — and, after rallying from 19 points down with 22 minutes remaining, they’ll see the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 on Tuesday night for a berth in the Western Conference finals.
Nikola Jokic had 34 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, and the Nuggets topped the Clippers 111-98 on Sunday to even their West semifinal series at three games apiece. The Nuggets will try to become the first team in NBA history to rally from a pair of 3-1 deficits in the same postseason, after doing so against Utah in the West first round.
Jamal Murray scored 21 for Denver, which got 16 from Gary Harris, 13 from Michael Porter Jr. and 10 from Monte Morris.
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 Nuggets were down 16 at the half — 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.
Source: D’Antoni will not return as Rockets coach
Mike D’Antoni has told the Houston Rockets that he will not be back as coach with them next season, and he essentially becomes a free agent, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
D’Antoni told the Rockets on Sunday — not even a full day after the team’s season ended with a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Lakers — that he would seek coaching options elsewhere for next season and not return to Houston. The person with knowledge of those talks spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team had yet to announce anything publicly.
ESPN first reported D’Antoni’s decision.
It was not totally unexpected; the Rockets and D’Antoni couldn’t agree on an extension last year, meaning he was coaching this season with no guarantee of his future in Houston. D’Antoni had already been mentioned as a potential candidate for vacancies in Indiana and Philadelphia.
Houston becomes the eighth team that will be going through a coaching change since the end of the regular season — March 11 for eight clubs that didn’t qualify for the NBA’s restart bubble, and mid-August for the league’s 22 other franchises.
In recent weeks, Brooklyn has hired Steve Nash and New York hired Tom Thibodeau. Chicago, Indiana, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and now Houston are vacant.
D’Antoni was with the Rockets for four seasons. Houston went 217-101 in his regular-season contests, a .682 winning percentage.
LAKERS 119, ROCKETS 96: The Los Angeles Lakers are going to the conference finals for the first time in a decade, ending the longest drought in franchise history.
LeBron James scored 29 points and the Lakers wrapped up their first trip to the Western Conference finals since 2010 by topping the Houston Rockets on Saturday night in Game 5 at Walt Disney World.
Kyle Kuzma scored 17 points, Markieff Morris had 16, Danny Green added 14 and Anthony Davis finished with 13 for the top-seeded Lakers. They will play either the second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers or third-seeded Denver Nuggets for the West title in a series that won’t begin before Wednesday.
James Harden had 30 points for Houston.