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Tuesday's NBA playoffs: Nuggets edge Jazz 80-78 to complete comeback from 3-1 down

Brian Mahoney
Associated Press

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Jamal Murray helped a heartbroken Donovan Mitchell off the floor for a handshake and hug, a show of respect between players who had a memorable battle in the bubble.

They traded historic offensive fireworks for six games, before Game 7 turned into an old-fashioned defensive struggle.

“It was a great battle. I don’t know what else to say. I’m speechless,” Murray said.

Utah Jazz's Joe Ingles (2) and Donovan Mitchell, bottom right, sit on the floor after their 80-78 loss to the Denver Nuggets Tuesday.

The ending left everyone out of words.

Nikola Jokic made the tiebreaking basket with 27 seconds left and the Nuggets advanced to the second round of the playoffs, beating the Utah Jazz 80-78 on Tuesday night when Mike Conley’s 3-pointer spun out at the buzzer.

The Nuggets became the 12th team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a series, but only after they blew a 19-point lead in this game.

“A lot of teams would have just given in, especially when you consider we’ve been here 57 days away from our families,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

After Jokic’s basket, the Jazz got the ball to Mitchell following a timeout. The Nuggets stole it from him and raced down for a fast break, but Torrey Craig missed the layup. Utah rebounded and pushed the ball up the floor to Conley, whose jumper looked good all the way until it fell out.

“It looked good, man. Sometimes, it’s just the way it works,” Mitchell said.

“We fought hard and came back. I’d go to war with any one of these guys in the locker room, any one of these coaches. We could’ve easy chalked it up in the first half. We have grit and fight. That’s all you can really ask for.”

Jokic had 30 points and 14 rebounds and Murray scored 17 points. No. 3 seed Denver advanced to face the second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals.

“Before the series started I felt it was going to be an interesting series. But after 3-1 I didn’t think it was going to be this interesting,” Jokic said. “So I’m glad that we won the game and I’m glad that we won the series.”

Mitchell scored 22 points and Rudy Gobert finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds after a huge second half for the Jazz.

Murray shot only 7 for 21, far off his performances of the past three games. So the Nuggets turned more to Jokic, their All-Star center who tossed in a short hook shot in the lane after the Jazz had tied it at 78.

“That’s when you need Nikola to step up,” Malone said.

Murray and Mitchell became the first pair of players to have two 50-point games in the same series, but the men in the middle were the biggest factors in this one.

After a quiet first half in which Mitchell was all the Jazz had going, Gobert began dominating the paint, keeping possessions alive on offense and stopping Denver drives on defense.

But the Nuggets prevailed in their third Game 7 in the last two years, having defeated San Antonio in the first round last year before getting knocked out by Portland. They played three more do-or-die games in the bubble to extend their stay.

Denver controlled the first half and had a 19-point lead a minute into the third quarter. Mitchell then scored nine straight points before Conley hit a 3-pointer that cut it to 55-48. The Jazz got it all the way down to 65-60 after Gobert converted a three-point play for the final points of the period.

Utah then got the first eight of the fourth, the final six by Gobert, to open a 68-65 lead.

“What I remember about tonight, we were dead in the water in the first half and weren’t playing well in a lot of ways,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “Our group just kept grinding and kept competing. That to me is as significant as anything that happened in the game.”

The Jazz won three straight games after Denver took the opener in overtime, and were poised to put away the series when they led by 15 points in the second half of Game 5.

But Murray, who had scored 50 points in Game 4, rallied the Nuggets and finished with 42, then came back with 50 again in Game 6, a three-game total of 142 that had been topped in the playoffs by only Jerry West and Michael Jordan.

More NBA playoffs

Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) grabs a rebound in front of Boston Celtics' Daniel Theis (27) in the second half Tuesday.

Boston 102, Toronto 99: Jayson Tatum scored 34 points, Marcus Smart made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and the Celtics beat the Raptors in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, putting the reigning NBA champions in serious trouble.

Smart scored 19 points, Kemba Walker had 17 and Jaylen Brown scored 16 for the Celtics, who now hold a 2-0 series lead. The Celtics are 3-0 against Toronto in the NBA’s restart bubble at Walt Disney World, and 5-1 against the Raptors this season.

OG Anunoby had 20 points for Toronto, which got 19 from Fred VanVleet – who missed a 28-footer as time expired. Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam scored 17 points apiece and Kyle Lowry added 16 for Toronto.

Smart made three 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions in a 73-second span early in the fourth, then added another 3 about a minute later – and a four-point play a minute after that, putting Boston up 86-85 with 7:55 left.

It was part of a 29-9 run by Boston, with the Celtics going up 95-87 with 4:18 left.

First round

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Milwaukee 4, Orlando 1

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Orlando, 122, Milwaukee 110

Thursday, Aug. 20: Milwaukee 111, Orlando 96

Saturday, Aug. 22: Milwaukee 121, Orlando 107

Monday, Aug. 24: Milwaukee 121, Orlando 106

Wednesday, Aug. 26: Orlando vs. Milwaukee, ppd.

Saturday, Aug. 29: Milwaukee 118, Orlando 104

Toronto 4, Brooklyn 0

Monday, Aug. 17: Toronto 134, Brooklyn 110

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Toronto 104, Brooklyn 99

Friday, Aug. 21: Toronto 117, Brooklyn 92

Sunday, Aug. 23: Toronto 150, Brooklyn 122

Boston 4, Philadelphia 0

Monday, Aug. 17: Boston 109, Philadelphia 101

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Boston 128, Philadelphia 101

Friday, Aug. 21: Boston 102, Philadelphia 94

Sunday, Aug. 23: Boston 110, Philadelphia 106

Miami 4, Indiana 0

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Miami 113 Indiana 101

Thursday, Aug. 20: Miami 109, Indiana 100

Saturday, Aug. 22: Miami 124, Indiana 115

Monday, Aug. 24: Miami 99, Indiana 87

WESTERN CONFERENCE

L.A. Lakers 4, Portland 1

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Portland 100, L.A. Lakers 93

Thursday, Aug. 20: L.A. Laker 111, Portland 88

Saturday, Aug. 22: L.A. Lakers 116, Portland 108

Monday, Aug. 24: L.A. Lakers 135 Portland 115

Wednesday, Aug. 26: Portland vs. L.A. Lakers, ppd.

Saturday, Aug. 29: L.A. Lakers 131, Portland 122

L.A. Clippers 4, Dallas 2

Monday, Aug. 17: L.A. Clippers 118, Dallas 110

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Dallas 127, L.A. Clippers 114

Friday, Aug. 21: L.A. Clippers 130, Dallas 122

Sunday, Aug. 23: Dallas 135, L.A. Clippers 133, OT

Tuesday, Aug. 25: L.A. Clippers 154, Dallas 111

Sunday, Aug. 30: L.A. Clippers 111, Dallas 97

Denver 4, Utah 3

Monday, Aug. 17: Denver 135, Utah 125, OT

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Utah 124, Denver 105

Friday, Aug. 21: Utah 124, Denver 87

Sunday, Aug. 23: Utah 129, Denver 127

Tuesday, Aug. 25: Denver 117, Utah 107

Thursday, Aug. 27: Denver vs. Utah, ppd.

Sunday, Aug. 30: Denver 119, Utah 107

Tuesday, Sept. 1: Denver 80, Utah 78

Houston 3, Oklahoma City 3

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Houston 123, Oklahoma City 108

Thursday, Aug. 20: Houston 112, Oklahoma City 98

Saturday, Aug. 22: Oklahoma City 119, Houston 107, OT

Monday, Aug. 24: Oklahoma City 117, Houston 114

Wednesday, Aug. 26: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, ppd.

Saturday, Aug. 29: Houston 114, Oklahoma City 80

Monday, Aug. 31: Oklahoma City 104, Houston 100

Wednesday, Sept. 2: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 9 p.m.

Conference semifinals

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Miami 1, Milwaukee 0

Monday, Aug. 31: Miami 115, Milwaukee 104

Wednesday, Sept. 2: Miami vs. Milwaukee, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 4: Milwaukee vs. Miami, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 6: Milwaukee vs. Miami, 3:30 p.m.

x-Tuesday, Sept. 8: Miami vs. Milwaukee, TBD

x-Thursday, Sept. 10: Milwaukee vs. Miami, TBD

x-Saturday, Sept. 12: Miami vs. Milwaukee, TBD

Boston 2, Toronto 0

Sunday, Aug. 30: Boston 112, Toronto 94

Tuesday, Sept. 1: Boston 102, Toronto 99

Thursday, Sept. 3: Toronto vs. Boston, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 5: Toronto vs. Boston, 6:30 p.m.

x-Monday, Sept. 7: Boston vs. Toronto, TBD

x-Wednesday, Sept. 9: Toronto vs. Boston, TBD

x-Friday, Sept. 11: Boston vs. Toronto, TBD

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Houston or Oklahoma City vs. L.A. Lakers

Friday, Sept. 4: HOU/OKC vs. L.A. Lakers, 9 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 6: HOU/OKC vs. L.A. Lakers, 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 8: L.A. Lakers, vs. HOU/OKC, 9 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 10: L.A. Lakers vs. HOU/OKC, TBD

x-Saturday, Sept. 12: HOU/OKC vs. L.A. Lakers, TBD

x-Monday, Sept. 14: L.A. Lakers vs. HOU/OKC, TBD

x-Wednesday, Sept. 16: HOU/OKC vs. L.A. Lakers, TBD

L.A. Clippers vs. Denver

Thursday, Sept. 3: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, 9 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 5: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, 9 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 7: L.A. Clippers vs. Denver, 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 9: L.A. Clippers vs. Denver, 9 p.m.

x-Friday, Sept. 11: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, TBD

x-Sunday, Sept. 13: L.A. Clippers vs. Denver, TBD

x-Tuesday, Sept. 15: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, TBD