Both the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers were facing elimination Tuesday night, as Game 7 of their series stunned the world.
Neither the Denver Nuggets or the Los Angeles Clippers began the contest particularly well, as they shot a combined 1-8 from three to open the game. The Clippers led 11-8 with 6:38 remaining before they took the first timeout of the game.
Despite the Nuggets having seven first quarter turnovers, Jokic set the tone in the first period with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. The game was tied at 24 heading into the second period.
Los Angeles began the second quarter on a 14-5 run, and got out to a 38-29 lead before the Denver took a timeout with 9:12 remaining in the half.
While a Kawhi Leonard layup gave the Clippers their largest lead of the game (50-38) with 4:36 remaining, the Nuggets — led by Murray — finished the half on a 16-6 run and entered halftime down two (56-54).
Murray was spectacular in the first half, scoring 25 points and shot 11-17 from the field. Jokic recorded a double-double through two quarters, as he totaled 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
The Clippers were led by Leonard and Montrezl Harrell, who both scored 12 points.
LA began the third quarter on a 5-0 run but the Nuggets responded with an 8-0 run and took a 62-61 lead with 8:55 remaining. It was from this point on that the Clippers began to look a little worse for wear.
A Paul Millsap 3-pointer gave Denver a nine-point lead (76-67) with 4:01 to play, and Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone gave his exhausted squad a quick breather as Denver took a timeout with 2:55 left in the period.
The Nuggets led by eight (82-74) heading into the final quarter of play.
Denver opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run, taking a 89-74 advantage with 8:47 to play before Los Angeles took a timeout. The Clippers did not score a field goal until 4:58 remaining in the quarter and, by that point, Denver was leading 91-78.
It was easy sailings for the remainder of the game, with the Nuggets taking a 20-point lead at one point, and defeating LA by double-digits (104-89) in Game 7.
Murray added to his collection of phenomenal performances during this postseason, scoring 40 points on 15-26 shooting and dishing out five assists.
Jokic had a fantastic game as well, totaling 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists, becoming the first player in NBA history to record a 20-rebound triple-double in a Game 7.
The Clippers’ stars, on the other hand, were plagued with poor shooting. An ice cold Leonard finished with just 14 points on 6-22 shooting, and Paul George totaled 10 points on 4-16 shooting.
With the win, Denver became the first team in NBA history to overcome two 3-1 series deficits in the same postseason, and clinched their first Western Conference Finals bid since 2009.
In their next series, the Nuggets will face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, with Game 1 set for Friday, Sept. 18, at 9 p.m. (EST)