The Denver Nuggets survived a frantic finish to complete a rally from a 3-1 post-season deficit on Tuesday night, getting a go-ahead hoop from Nikola Jokic with 27.8 seconds remaining for an 80-78 victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 7 of its Western Conference first-round series in the NBA bubble near Orlando.
The 4-3 win vaults the third-seed Nuggets, who had never previously rallied to win a series from down 3-1, into a second-round matchup with the second-seed Los Angeles Clippers, beginning on Thursday night.
After sixth-seed Utah forged a 78-all tie on a Rudy Gobert dunk with 47.5 seconds left, the Nuggets went to Jokic inside against the Jazz's ace defender, and the Denver big man came through with a short hook shot in the lane for the game's final points.
In winning for the third straight time after falling behind 3-1 in the series, the Nuggets prevailed despite getting just 17 points on 7-for-21 shooting from Jamal Murray, who suffered a bruised thigh in a collision with Utah's Joe Ingles in the second quarter and was never the same.
Jokic paced the Nuggets with a game-high 30 points, completing a double-double with 14 rebounds. Michael Porter Jr. chipped in with 10 points off the bench for Denver, which won despite shooting just 37.3 percent and scoring only 30 points in the second half. After a slow start, Mitchell led the Jazz with 22 points, shooting 9-for-22, while Gobert had 19 to complement a game-high 18 rebounds.
Mitchell connected on a pair of 3-pointers (on eight attempts), giving him 33 treys in the seven games and allowing him to break Stephen Curry's single-series post-season record of 32, set in 2016. Murray wound up with 32 three-pointers in the series, though he was just 1-for-6 from long distance on Tuesday.
Jordan Clarkson added 10 points for Utah, which had never previously lost a playoff series in which it led 3-1. After Mitchell's 13 third-quarter points had rallied the Jazz into contention after they had trailed by as many as 19, Conley and Gobert combined for all the points in an 8-0 run to begin the fourth period and give Utah its first lead since the first quarter at 68-65.
Denver subsequently regained a four-point lead on two consecutive hoops by Murray, the latter making it 78-74 with 1:43 to go. But Utah made one last charge, rallying into a 78-all tie with 47.5 seconds to go on hoops by Royce O'Neal and Gobert, both assisted by Conley, setting up the wild finish.
- Celtics storm back to beat Raptors in Game 2 -
Jayson Tatum scored a playoff-career-high 34 points, Marcus Smart sunk five 3-pointers during a furious fourth-quarter comeback and the Boston Celtics rallied past the Toronto Raptors 102-99 in Game 2 of its Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Smart had 19 points, Kemba Walker added 17 and Jaylen Brown 16 as the Celtics took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 3 will take place Thursday. OG Anunoby had 20 points and Fred VanVleet 19 for the Raptors, who dropped to 0-3 against Boston in the NBA bubble. Toronto shot 11 of 40 (27.5 percent) from deep.
Down by as many as 12 late in the third quarter, the Celtics entered the fourth trailing 78-70. Smart, who had three points through the first three quarters, then took over. Smart nailed a trio of threes as the Celtics got within 80-79. He knotted the score at 82 with another trey to complete a 16-4 Boston spurt.
Anunoby completed a three-point play for the Raptors, and Smart responded with another three and the foul for an 86-85 edge with 7:55 remaining. Tatum nailed a three, and Boston went up 93-87 with 5:41 to go. A VanVleet trey got Toronto within 95-92. After Tatum and Kyle Lowry each hit two free throws, Walker drilled a three for a 100-94 lead with 2:24 left.
Lowry hit a technical free throw and two more at the line to get the Raptors within 100-99, but Walker hit another bucket for a three-point Celtics lead with 41.6 ticks left. VanVleet's chance to tie at the buzzer bounced off the board. Toronto used a 14-2 run to grab the game's largest lead, 78-66, with 2:46 remaining in the third.
The Raptors, who trailed from start to finish in Game 1, got ahead 17-9 in the first quarter, but the Celtics battled back to knot the score at 28 after one. Boston went up 50-45 on a Grant Williams dunk with 45.5 seconds left in the half, but Pascal Siakam beat the buzzer with a three to cut the margin to 50-48 at the break.
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