Nikola Jokic had 30 points as the Denver Nuggets punched their ticket to the Western Conference semi-finals with a thrilling 80-78 game seven victory over the Utah Jazz yesterday.
The 25-year-old Serbian star, who also had 14 rebounds and four assists, had been taking a back seat to scoring phenom Jamal Murray in the series, but Jokic busted out in the winner-take-all showdown in Orlando, Florida.
“We didn’t quit. We just didn’t want to quit. I am glad we won the game,” said Jokic.
The Nuggets advance to the conference semis where they will face the Los Angeles Clippers in another best-of-seven series. The first game is tomorrow in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Florida.
Yesterday’s game finished with a wild sequence that included Utah’s Mike Conley throwing up a desperation shot at the buzzer that ringed the basket but failed to drop in.
Donovan Mitchell also had a chance to tie it on Utah’s previous possession but he lost the ball on a drive to the basket. Denver immediately went down to the other end but they missed an easy layup on their final possession of the game that would have sealed it.
Murray scored 17 points and Michael Porter finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for the Nuggets who advanced in a series for the first time in franchise history after being down three games to one.
They are just the 12th team in league history to rally and advance after being down 3-1.
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 22 points and nine rebounds.
In the Eastern Conference, Jayson Tatum scored a career playoff high 34 points and Marcus Smart drained five three pointers in the fourth quarter as the Boston Celtics rallied to beat Toronto, 102-99, in game two of their series.
Kemba Walker finished with 17 points and Jaylen Brown had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Celtics, who grabbed a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final.*AFP