Every time it looked like the Los Angeles Clippers would put the Denver Nuggets away in Game 6, the Nuggets slink back into the game.
Rick Malone’s Nuggets pulled off another playoff-saving come back — and, after recovering from 19 points down with 22 minutes remaining, they’ll see the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 on Tuesday night for a place in the Western Conference finals.
Nikola Jokic took charge of Nuggets with 34 points and 14 rebounds. Jamal Murray put in 21 points and Michael Porter Jr. scored 10 points off the bench. They were in a similar situation against Utah Jazz in the previous first-round series but later successfully overcome the 3-1 lead.
Kawhi dropped 25 points while getting 11 rebounds and nine assists. Paul George added 33 points coming off the bench, and Lou Williams finished with 14. where they could have made history and grab a trip to the conference finals.
Nuggets saved their season in Game 5 of the opening round by rallying from 15 points down in the third quarter against Utah jazz to set the tone for a rally from a 3-1 series deficit. They saved themselves again in Game 5 of this series, getting down by 16 before coming back to save the season again.
On Sunday, it was more of the same.
“One thing I do like about Denver is they never change the way they play,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said they day before the game.
“They keep playing the same way, they keep moving and cutting and you have to have great discipline to beat them. You have to stay with it. You can’t take your eye off of it. … Of all the teams left in the bubble, this is the team that will hurt you the most when you do that.”
PG hit a 3-pointer shortly after halftime for a 19-point lead and Kawhi made a pair of free throws with 8:27 left in the third quarter to put the Clippers up 73-55. That’s apparently when the Nuggets decided it was time to lock in offensively and defensively
Over the next 10 minutes, the Nuggets outscored the Clippers 30-8. Denver had eight different players score in that mark, Murray and Morris scoring seven apiece, and the big score difference became an 85-81 lead with 10:16 left.
“Our players are comfortable being uncomfortable,” Denver coach Michael Malone said.
“We find ways, we find solutions and we don’t make excuses,” Malone said about 90 minutes before Game 6.
“That’s something we’ve done since the day I got here. Players understand that, and they bought into it and that’s why we’re such a tough and resilient group.”
Now, it’s onto Game 7 on Tuesday.