It happened for just the 12th time in NBA history on Tuesday night. The Denver Nuggets shocked the Utah Jazz after falling down 3-1 in a first-round playoff series for the ages.
With Donovan Mitchell’s Jazz firmly in control and ready to eliminate the Nuggets, Mike Malone’s Denver squad had no choice but to pick-axe their way back up the mountain, focusing on only the next game. Avoiding a gloomy flight back to the Mile High City, the sublime duo of Jamal “Blue Arrow” Murray and Nikola “The Joker” Jokic lifted the troops up while carrying the load.
Eventually tied at 3-3 heading into Tuesday evening’s contest inside the ‘Bubble’ in Orlando, fans were rewarded with a deciding Game 7. In sports, there’s simply nothing better than Game 7.
Albeit a low-scoring battle, it had down to the wire Orange Roundball League entertainment value written all over it.
A 19-point Denver bulge in Game 7 dwindled rapidly when Utah responded with a comeback of their own. In fact, the Jazz’s 22-point turnaround in the contest had them leading 68-65 in the fourth quarter of this strange, defensive-minded tilt. High-scoring games were a constant from the tip of the series, so this bizarre bucket-getting struggle was extremely unusual. On the flip-side, it certainly didn’t disappoint the masses.
Mr. Jokic’s (30 points and 14 rebounds in Game 7) pivoting, floating hook shot in the middle of the lane gave the Nuggets an 80-78 advantage with just 27 ticks left on the game clock.
NIKOLA JOKIC GIVES DENVER THE LEAD IN GAME 7. pic.twitter.com/IEYYztpuCs
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) September 2, 2020
Here’s video of The Joker’s (best center in the NBA) floater.
The ensuing Jazz possession had Mr. Mitchell driving to the cup when guard Gary “G-Money” Harris, playing in just his second game back (Game 6) in the ‘Bubble’ after recovering from a hip strain, stripped the orange from behind. The clutch steal had Denver running the floor in transition with Mr. Murray leading the break.
Murray dished the rock to Torrey “TC3” Craig for the bunny layup that would’ve put the Nuggs up 82-78, bringing Game 7 to a close, and sending Denver to the West semifinals to face the Los Angeles Clippers. Wait a minute — the shot didn’t fall. What? Indeed. Craig’s attempt on the doorstep, and off the window, bounced out.
Utah’s Mike Conley found the orange in his wickets as he sliced his way towards the three-point line as the final seconds ticked away. His heave at the buzzer almost splashed-in — it would’ve given the Jazz a miraculous victory had it touched nylon. Instead, it rimmed-out. Dad-gum, that was close.
Denver lived to see another day on the hardwood, sending the Jazz packing with a devastating loss and collapse with a 3-1 series lead. Ouch, babe.
How about the berserk, bananas, bonkers duel between Murray and Mitchell? These crazy-young 23-year-old superstars set the ‘Bubble’ on fire with their extraordinary shot-making abilities. Jamal and Donovan became the first pair of players to have two 50-point games in the same series in NBA history. Amazing.
Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray combined to score 475 points in this series. That is the most combined points by opposing players in a series in NBA history. The previous record was by Jerry West and John Havlicek in the 1969 NBA Finals (463). pic.twitter.com/iu2Z8tUMS8
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 2, 2020
Nothing but love and respect between these two basketball studs. Kudos to magnificent sportsmanship, young fellas.
Take a look at these ridiculous point totals from Mr. Murray and Mr. Mitchell in the epic series. Not only that, but this is also the respect they showed for one another immediately following Game 7.
Game 4: 50 points Game 5: 42 points Game 6: 50 points
Game 1: 57 points Game 4: 51 points Game 6: 44 points
Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell became the first pair of players to average 30+ PPG while shooting 50% or better from the floor in the same playoff series since LeBron James and Kevin Durant in the 2017 NBA Finals. pic.twitter.com/4upjHXBpEH
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) September 2, 2020
Multiple 50-point games in a single series:
– Jamal Murray – 2020 1st Round, Nuggets/Jazz – Donovan Mitchell – 2020 1st Round, Nuggets/Jazz
– Allen Iverson – 2001 Conf Semis, 76ers/Raps
– Michael Jordan – 1988 1st Round, Bulls/Cavs
Welcome the league’s two newest superstars, folks. We’ll all get to witness greatness from both studs for years to come.
The Nuggets’ remarkable series comeback earns them a date with the Clippers. Los Angeles, holding the No. 2-seed, will tip-off the West semifinals against Denver (No. 3-seed) Thursday night in Game 1. Let’s play basketball.
Until next week, be smart, stay safe, and stay healthy.