EditorsNote: adds quotes in grafs 3, 10
Jamal Murray scored 40 points, and the Denver Nuggets completed a stunning comeback in the Western Conference semifinals with a 104-89 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 on Tuesday at the NBA bubble near Orlando.
The third-seeded Nuggets became the first NBA team to rally from 3-1 deficits twice in the same postseason. They defeated the Utah Jazz in the first round. Denver will meet the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in Western Conference finals, beginning Friday.
“We just believe in each other,” Murray said on ESPN afterward.
Murray, who also had five assists, connected on 15 of 26 shots, including 6 of 13 from 3-point range. Nikola Jokic had 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists for Denver, and Jerami Grant and Gary Harris contributed 14 points apiece.
Montrezl Harrell had 20 points for the second-seeded Clippers, who have never advanced to the Western Conference finals in franchise history. The franchise is 0-8 when it had a chance, dating back to its days as the Buffalo Braves.
Kawhi Leonard managed just 14 points, Patrick Beverley scored 11 and Paul George finished with 10. Leonard shot 6 of 22 while George was 4 of 16 from the floor.
A 3-pointer by Murray gave Denver an 89-74 lead with 8:48 remaining to cap a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter. The Clippers went more than seven minutes without a field goal in the final period. The Nuggets took advantage, boosting the lead to 100-80 on a dunk by Jerami Grant with 2:10 left.
In the third, the Nuggets took control. After falling behind by seven, they used a 16-2 surge for a 70-63 lead after a 3-pointer by Harris with 5:54 left in the quarter. They led by as much as nine in the third before taking a 82-74 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Denver outscored Los Angeles 28-18 in the third.
“This is just a special group,” Jokic told ESPN.
The Clippers, who led by as much as 12 in the first half, held a 56-54 edge at the break. Murray had 25 points in the first half.
Overall, the Nuggets outshot the Clippers 49.4 percent to 37.8 percent.
--Field Level Media