NBA Finals

‘Huge all night’: Gordon breakout fuels Nuggets as Heat lose steam 

Reuters

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‘Huge all night’: Gordon breakout fuels Nuggets as Heat lose steam 

TAKE CHARGE. Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon dribbles the ball against Heat forward Caleb Martin in Game 4.

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY/Reuters Con

Even after the history-making performances of the their two superstars, the Nuggets find another warrior in Aaron Gordon to take the starring role against the Heat

Two nights after Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray put on historic performances, neither player was the key cog for the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

Aaron Gordon stepped up with the top playoff effort of his nine-year career as he recorded 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists to help the Nuggets move within one victory of their first title with a 108-95 victory over the host Miami Heat on Friday night, June 9 (Saturday, June 10, Manila time).

Jokic and Murray were the first teammates in NBA history to have 30-point triple-doubles in Denver’s Game 3 victory. 

However, neither star was as important in Game 4 as Gordon, who stepped up with 11-of-15 shooting – including 3-of-4 success from three-point range – as the Nuggets took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“I mean, that’s just how this team is built,” Gordon said of taking the starring role.

“We have guys that can step up night in and night out. Sometimes it’s not going to be your night, and sometimes it is going to be your night. This team does a good job finding people who are in a rhythm.”

Tweaked ankle, foul trouble

Nuggets coach Michael Malone gushed about Gordon’s effort.

“Aaron Gordon was huge all night long,” Malone said. “He brought his hard hat tonight and was just a warrior on both ends.”

Jokic tweaked his right ankle in the opening quarter but still recorded 23 points and 12 rebounds. The two-time MVP also got saddled by fouls, returning only with 4:09 left after sitting out for 5:15 minutes due to being whistled for his fifth foul. Denver led by 10 when he took a seat.

Murray registered 15 points and 12 assists without a single turnover. He had no problem being more of a complementary player.

Denver reserve Bruce Brown likewise stepped up, scoring 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.

“We got a bunch of guys who can come in the game and impact it,” Murray said. “You can’t just focus on me or Jok. You have to guard everybody, and tonight was another example.”

Jimmy Butler had 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists, and Bam Adebayo amassed 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat. Kyle Lowry scored 13 points while Kevin Love and Duncan Robinson added 12 apiece for Miami.

‘No quit’

Denver can win the title at home in Game 5 on Monday, June 12 (Tuesday, June 13, Manila time).

But the Heat are still holding out hope that they can become the second team to recover from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers rallied to beat the Golden Warriors in the 2016 Finals.

“It’s the same thing that it’s always been – it’s a game at a time,” Butler said. “Now we’re in a must-win situation every game, which we’re capable of. We’ve got to correct some things, but it’s not impossible. We got three to get.”

“We have no quit,” Butler said. “We’re going to continue to fight and get better, starting tomorrow.” – Rappler.com

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