Nuggets complete comeback

nuggets complete comeback - Nuggets complete comeback

LA Clippers eliminated in Game Seven
Miami Heat draw first blood in East Finals

JAMAL MURRAY scored 40 points, and the Denver Nuggets completed a stunning comeback in the Western Conference semifinals with a 104-89 victory over the Los Angeles (LA) Clippers in Game 7 on Tuesday at the NBA bubble near Orlando.

The third-seeded Nuggets became the first NBA team to rally from 3-1 deficits twice in the same postseason. They defeated the Utah Jazz in the first round. Denver will meet the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in Western Conference finals, beginning Saturday.

Murray, who also had five assists, connected on 15 of 26 shots, including six of 13 from 3-point range. Nikola Jokic had 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists for Denver, and Jerami Grant and Gary Harris contributed 14 points apiece.

Montrezl Harrell had 20 points for the second-seeded Clippers, who have never advanced to the Western Conference finals in franchise history. The franchise is 0-8 when it had a chance, dating back to its days as the Buffalo Braves.

Kawhi Leonard managed just 14 points, Patrick Beverley scored 11 and Paul George finished with 10. Leonard shot six of 22 while George was four of 16 from the floor.

A 3-pointer by Murray gave Denver an 89-74 lead with 8:48 remaining to cap a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter. The Clippers went more than seven minutes without a field goal in the final period. The Nuggets took advantage, boosting the lead to 100-80 on a dunk by Jerami Grant with 2:10 left.

In the third, the Nuggets took control. After falling behind by seven, they used a 16-2 surge for a 70-63 lead after a 3-pointer by Harris with 5:54 left in the quarter. They went up as much as nine in the third before taking a 82-74 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Denver outscored Los Angeles 28-18 in the third.

The Clippers, who led by as much as 12 in the first half, held a 56-54 edge at the break. Murray had 25 points in the first half.

Overall, the Nuggets outshot the Clippers 49.4% to 37.8%.

HEAT SINK CELTICS IN OT
Jimmy Butler fought through traffic for the game-winning bucket with 12 seconds remaining in overtime as the Miami Heat edged the Boston Celtics 117-114 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night near Orlando.

Butler drew a foul on the play and made the free throw to put the Heat up 116-114. Bam Adebayo blocked Jayson Tatum’s attempt to tie the score with 3.7 seconds remaining, and after Adebayo made 1 of 2 at the free throw line, Tatum missed on a 3-point attempt as time expired to seal the result.

“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.”

Butler added, “That sealed the game for us… (Adebayo is) a huge part to why we’re winning — I’ve been saying it all year long, and I’ll repeat it again.”

Goran Dragic led the Heat with 29 points with seven rebounds, Jae Crowder added 22 and sunk five 3-pointers, and Butler scored 20 for the Heat, who won for the ninth time in 10 playoff games. Adebayo had 18 points and nine assists, and Tyler Herro fell an assist shy of a triple-double (12 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists).

Tatum had a game-high 30 points with 14 rebounds, Marcus Smart scored 26, and Kemba Walker had 19 for the Celtics. Walker put Boston up 114-113 on a step-back bucket with 23.6 seconds left in overtime.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will take place Friday.

“It was a great win. We’re up 1-0, but we got three more to get,” Adebayo said.

The Celtics led by 14 early in the fourth quarter before the Heat got within 101-98 on a Herro 3-pointer with 3:17 remaining. Boston went up 105-100 on a shot-clock-beating floater by Walker with 1:09 left, but Herro drained another trey at 1:02 to cut the deficit to two.

A Butler step-back three made it 106-105 Heat with 22 seconds left, but Derrick Jones Jr. committed a foul before the ensuing inbound pass to allow Tatum to knot the score with a free throw as the Celtics retained possession. Tatum missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to force overtime.

Boston led 83-71 entering the fourth after Miami was held to a playoff-low 16 points in the third quarter. The Heat went one of eight from 3-point range in the period, undoing a scorching shooting performance in the second that had forged a 55-all halftime tie.

The Heat trailed by as much as 13 in the first quarter before outscoring the Celtics 37-29 in the second. Miami shot 68.1% in the second period, including six of eight from beyond the arc.

“Gotta tip your hat off to those guys,” Smart said. “They executed very well down the stretch, we didn’t.” — Reuters

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