The Denver Nuggets etched their mark in NBA history as the first team to come back from a 1-3 deficit in back-to-back playoff series as they shocked the Los Angeles Clippers to reach the NBA Western Conference finals.
Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic both delivered stellar performances to lead the Nuggets to a stunning 104-89 win over the Clippers in their do-or-die Game 7 on Tuesday, September 15 (Wednesday, September 16, Manila time).
Murray carried the scoring load in the win, putting up 40 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds as the Nuggets banked on another big second half to go up 6-0 when facing elimination in the playoffs this season.
The Nuggets trailed 54-56 at halftime before they outscored the Clippers, 28-18, in a fiery third-quarter turnaround to head into the final quarter with an 82-74 advantage.
Shooting woes then haunted the Clippers as they failed to score a field goal in the first 7 minutes of the last period, with the Nuggets padding their lead to 100-80 off a Murray triple and a Jerami Grant dunk with two minutes left.
Jokic finished with 16 points, 22 rebounds, 13 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals for the Nuggets, while Grant and Gary Harris had 14 points apiece and combined for 11 rebounds.
This is the first time the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals since 2009 after they fell short of achieving the feat last season when they fell prey to the Portland Trail Blazers in 7 games.
"Nobody wanted us in. Nobody thought that we can do something and we proved ourselves and we proved everybody that we can do something," Jokic said after the game.
Superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for just 24 points off a horrendous 10-of-38 shooting as the Clippers failed in their bid to advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
The Clippers have now blown a 3-1 lead for the second time, just like they did against the Houston Rockets in the conference semifinals in 2015.
Clippers' Doc Rivers, meanwhile, has lost 3 playoff series when leading 3-1 as a coach, the first of which came in 2003 when his Orlando Magic succumbed to the Detroit Pistons in the first round.
Montrezl Harrell led the Clippers with 20 points off the bench. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.