Andrew LopezESPN4 minutes of reading
DENVER — It’s not the prettiest of wins, but that doesn’t matter in the playoffs. The main thing is to be on top The Denver Nuggets won Tuesday night to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
After a lackluster first-quarter performance that saw them trail by as many as 15 points — their largest deficit of the series — the Nuggets slowly pulled away and were finally able to pull away in the second half for a 112-109 victory. Minnesota Timberwolves.
The win took the series 4-1. They advance to face the Phoenix Suns, who eliminated the LA Clippers in Game 5 late Tuesday.
“I don’t care about winning a series, being an 8-seed or a 1-seed or all that other BS,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone. “It’s hard to win a series in the playoffs. I’m very proud of our players.”
Nikola Jokic finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists for his second triple-double of the series and his eighth career playoff triple-double. Only Wilt Chamberlain (nine) has more by a center in NBA playoff history. Denver went 29-2 this season, including the playoffs, and Jokic had a triple-double.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Jokic became the fifth player in NBA history to go 25-15-10, joining LeBron James (2020), James Worthy (1988), Chamberlain (1967) and Oscar Robertson (1963). Research.
However, it wasn’t his best shooting night as he was 8-for-29 from the field. He was 3-of-8 from 3-point range and 9-of-10 from the line.
Jokic came through when the Nuckets needed him the most. With the score tied at 104, Jokic missed a jumper in the lane, he rebounded, missed a layup, got his rebound, then hit a hook shot to give the Nuggets a two-point advantage.
On the other end, Anthony Edwards missed a jumper and Jokic grabbed the rebound and drove it up court. After running an action with Murray at the top of the key, Murray found a rolling Jokic at the basket and he made contact and scored with 28.1 seconds left. The ensuing free throw put the Nuggets up by 5.
The Timberwolves answered with a 3-pointer by Mike Conley, and after two free throws by Bruce Brown, Minnesota scored again with 3.4 seconds left on an Edwards layup. Jokic made two free throws with 2.5 left to put Denver up by three.
Minnesota had a chance to tie it, but Edwards’ deep 3-point attempt hit the back of the rim.
Malone said he’s not sure why the Nuggets came out so sluggish Tuesday night.
“I couldn’t put my finger on it because it was going on. “Was it nerves? Was it the moment? Was it too big for us to try to shut down a team? I don’t think so. We looked like we weren’t playing hard. But it wasn’t the physicality that was needed. And the aggression and intensity needed to shut down a team.”
Despite a furious late comeback and forcing overtime at Minnesota on Sunday, the Nuggets failed to pull off the sweep. The Timberwolves threw the first punch Tuesday in Denver, jumping out to a 27-12 lead.
Denver ended the first quarter on a 10-2 run, and the score remained close throughout. Neither team led by more than two possessions until the final buzzer with 7:15 left in the second quarter.
Jamal Murray finished with 35 points, marking his seventh 35-point playoff game. In Nuggets playoff history, only Jokic (nine) has more.
Denver has home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. Including the regular season and playoffs, they are 37-7 at home this season, the best winning percentage in the league through Tuesday games.