Nuggets force Game 7; Celtics beat Raptors
KAWHI LEONARD had 33 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists and the Los Angeles Clippers eliminated the Dallas Mavericks from the playoffs with a 111-97 victory in Game 6 on Sunday in the National Basketball Association (NBA) bubble near Orlando.
Ivica Zubac had 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul George contributed 15 points, nine boards and seven assists for the Clippers. Leonard added five steals.
The Clippers advanced to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, where they await the winner of the Utah Jazz-Denver Nuggets series.
Luka Doncic had 38 points, nine assists and nine rebounds for the Mavericks. Dorian Finney-Smith added 16 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 10.
Los Angeles guard Patrick Beverley (calf) sat out his sixth straight playoff game. Dallas was without center Kristaps Porzingis (knee) for the third game in a row.
Meanwhile, Denver forced Utah to a rubber match in their best-of-seven first-round playoff duel after taking Game 6, 119-107, to level the series at three games apiece.
Jamal Murray exploded for a game-high 50 points, including 14 in a second-quarter turnaround to propel the Nuggets to the win.
In scoring 50 for the second time in three games, Murray won a second consecutive duel with Jazz counterpart Donovan Mitchell, who poured in a team-high 44 points, his third time over 40 in the series.
Game 7 is scheduled for Tuesday, with the Nuggets going the distance for the third consecutive time in the last two seasons. They survived a Game 7 with San Antonio in the first round last year, before losing the decisive game to Portland in the Western semifinals.
Big man Nikola Jokic complemented Murray’s effort with 22 points and a game-high nine assists, while Jerami Grant added 18 points and Monte Morris 10 for the Nuggets.
Mike Conley, meanwhile, added 21 points and a team-high six assists for the Jazz, while Jordan Clarkson had 11 points, Rudy Gobert a double-double with 11 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, and Georges Niang 10 points.
CELTICS TAKE GAME 1
In the Eastern Conference, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart scored 21 points apiece to lift the Boston Celtics to a 112-94 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday afternoon in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Kemba Walker had 18 points, Jaylen Brown 17, Daniel Theis 13 and Robert Williams III 10 as the Celtics won their fifth straight game to open the playoffs. Theis and Walker added game highs of 15 rebounds and 10 assists, respectively.
Kyle Lowry had 17 points and Serge Ibaka added 15 for the Raptors, who saw their eight-game winning streak come to a halt.
Game 1 of the seven-game series had originally been scheduled for Thursday before player protests related to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin pushed back the NBA schedule. Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday. — Reuters