NBA: Nuggets avoid play-off sweep as Bucks, Heat take 3-1 leads

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Nikola Jokic scored 37 factors and the Denver Nuggets prevented being swept out of the National Basketball Association play-offs on Sunday (April 24), holding off the Golden State Warriors 126-121.

The 27-year-old Serbian large man, final season’s NBA Most Valuable Player, additionally delivered eight rebounds and 6 assists as the Nuggets pulled inside 3-1 of their best-of-seven Western Conference first-round collection to drive a fifth sport on Wednesday in San Francisco.

The defending champions Milwaukee Bucks and the Eastern Conference top-seeded Miami Heat pushed their collection leads to 3-1 with lopsided victories.

The Bucks routed the Chicago Bulls 119-95 and the Heat dominated the Atlanta Hawks 110-86.

Jokic acknowledged that the Nuggets had been decided to avoid a sweep on their dwelling ground in opposition to the Warriors.

“We put up the fight,” he mentioned. “We didn’t want to get swept. We have more pride in ourselves.”

After Stephen Curry nailed a protracted jumper to present Golden State a 121-119 lead with 1min 21sec to play, Jokic made a lay-up, Monte Morris sank a go-ahead jumper with 33 seconds remaining and, after a steal by Austin Rivers, Jokic fired a go to Will Barton for the deciding nook three-pointer with 8.3 seconds remaining.

“I was just trying to attack and I just saw the pass in the corner,” mentioned Jokic.

No workforce in NBA historical past has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a play-off collection, however Jokic says the Nuggets have the spirit to make historical past.

“We’ve really got our second wind, so why not?” he mentioned.

In the 2020 play-offs performed within the coronavirus bubble, the Nuggets grew to become the primary workforce to rally from 3-1 down in a collection twice in the identical post-season.

“Obviously, out of all the teams in the play-offs, we’re probably the most comfortable being down 3-1,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone mentioned. “Can I say we have them right where we want them? No. But we’re alive.”

Morris had 24 factors and Aaron Gordon added 21 for Denver.

Curry had 33 off the bench – 15 within the fourth quarter – to steer Golden State, whereas Thompson had 32 in his first 30-point play-off sport because the 2019 NBA Finals.

Draymond Green scored 13 factors and pulled down 11 rebounds earlier than fouling out with simply over two minutes remaining.

Giannis powers Bucks’ rout

Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered sport highs of 32 factors and 17 rebounds to steer the Bucks in Chicago. The Greek star additionally handed off seven assists and blocked two pictures to place the Bucks in management as they head dwelling for Game 5 on Wednesday.

Bucks reserve Grayson Allen scored a profession play-off excessive 27 on 10-of-12 capturing, 6-of-7 from three-point vary, whereas Jrue Holiday added 26 factors and Bobby Portis had 14 for Milwaukee.

“I’ve got to trust my teammates,” mentioned Antetokounmpo. “They know what the deal is. They can all make plays. The games become easy when you move the ball.”

The Bulls, who haven’t gained a house play-off sport since 2015, had been led by Zach LaVine with 24 factors and 13 assists whereas DeMar DeRozan added 23 factors.

The Bucks had been with out ahead Khris Middleton, out for the rest of the collection because of a left knee harm suffered in a Game 2 loss. Portis changed him, carrying glasses to guard a watch harm.

Jimmy Butler led the Heat in Miami, scoring 36 factors to place the workforce on the point of advancing.

Miami held Atlanta star Trae Young to only 9 factors on 3-of-11 capturing – all three of his baskets three-pointers.

Butler added 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals for a Heat workforce that was with out Kyle Lowry, who was sidelined with a hamstring pressure however was a vocal presence on the bench.

Trailing by one after the primary quarter, the Heat seized management with a 30-15 second quarter that featured a 15-0 scoring run and closed with an 11-0 surge.

It was a irritating night time for Atlanta, who had clawed again a win on Friday on a sport winner by Young. The Heat will attempt to shut it out on their dwelling ground on Tuesday.

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