Nuggets close out Wolves in 5 as Malone ‘Proud’

Nuggets close out Wolves in 5 as Malone 'Proud'

DENVER — It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but there’s no style point in the playoffs. The only thing that matters is the win, and that’s what the top-ranked Denver Nuggets walked away with on Tuesday night.

After falling behind by as many as 15 points, their largest deficit of the series, the Nuggets slowly pulled away and held off the eighth-ranked Minnesota Timberwolves late in Game 5 for a 112–109 victory.

Denver swept the series 4-1 and advanced to the conference semifinals, where they will face the fourth-seeded Phoenix Suns, who swept the LA Clippers in Game 5 on Tuesday night. The Nuggets-Sun series begins Saturday at the Ball Arena.

“To win a series, I don’t care about 8-seed, 1-seed, all the other BS — it’s hard to win a series in the playoffs,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “So I’m really proud of our guys.”

It was a slower-than-usual start for the Nuggets, who shot just 33.3% in the first quarter before going away. Malone joked that the team resembled a ball arena crowd, arriving late due to inclement weather in the area.

Malone said the team played the first quarter like it was a regular-season game but credited Jamaal Murray for keeping things going.

“I thought Jamal made two shots, and Jamal plays with a lot of emotion, and I think that got our team going,” Malone said. “And the guys off the bench got our team going, and then the crowd really got into it, which is what we need.”

Murray finished with 35 points, marking his seventh 35-point playoff game. In Nuggets playoff history, only Nikola Jokic (nine) has more.

If the Nuggets are to achieve the same level of success against the Suns, Murray said it will have to start with the team getting off to a good start.

“We do a good job of fighting back, but we don’t want to be in that position in the playoffs,” Murray said. “So even when we’re not making shots or not getting the shots we want and we’re missing, we have to come out aggressively. We can rely on our defense and get stops.”

Murray had 12 points in the second quarter as the Nuggets stormed back. Down the stretch, the team relied on Jokic, the two-time MVP.

Jokic finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists for his second triple-double of the series and eighth career playoff triple-double. Only Wilt Chamberlain (nine) has more by a center in NBA playoff history. Denver improved to 29-2 this season, including the playoffs, while Jokic had a triple-double.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Jokic became the fifth player in NBA history to have a 25-15-10 clean sheet, joining LeBron James (2020), James Worthy (1988), Chamberlain (1967) and Oscar Robertson (1963). Research

It wasn’t his best night from the floor, though, as he was 8-of-29 from the field, but also went 3-of-8 on 3-pointers and 9-of-10 from the line.

Jokic came through when the Nuggets needed him the most. With the score tied 104-104 with less than a minute to go, Jokic missed a jumper in the lane, got his rebound, missed a layup, got his rebound again and then hit a hook shot to give the Nuggets a two-point advantage. .

At the other end, Anthony Edwards missed a jumper, and Jokic grabbed the rebound and drove it up court. After driving the action with Murray at the top of the key, Murray found a rolling Jokic in goal and hit a bucket through contact with 28.1 seconds to go. The ensuing free throw put the Nuggets up by five.

The Timberwolves answered with a 3-pointer by Mike Conley and after two free throws by Bruce Brown, Minnesota scored again with an Edwards layup with 3.4 to go. Jokic made one of two free throws with 2.5 to put the Nuggets back up by three.

Minnesota had a chance to tie, but Edwards’ deep 3-point attempt went off the back rim.

“He’s relentless,” Malone said of Jokic. “The guy’s just a worker. Every day. You never have to worry about Nikola Jokic’s appearance and doing his job. His consistency, I’m surprised at times. He’s able to play as consistently as he can at this level. Which is good. separates the players from the greats.”

Minnesota shot 50.6% from the field to Denver’s 40%, but the difference was beyond the arc and at the free throw line. Denver hit four more 3-pointers and went 32-of-36 at the free throw line compared to just 19-of-25 for the Timberwolves.

“The fall line saved us tonight,” Malone said.

The Nuggets now turn their attention to the Suns, who defeated them in the Western Conference semifinals during the 2021 playoffs. Jokic was among the Denver players who had high praise for the team’s next opponent, saying the series will be “a big challenge for us.”

“I mean, maybe, they’re the favorite to win the championship,” Jokic said. “They’ve got a fantastic group of guys. Well coached. They’ve got Chris Paul, probably the best manager or general in the game. [Devin] booker, [Kevin Durant], superstars perhaps. Arguably the best players in the NBA right now. … [Deandre] Ayton, I really admire his game, especially in that situation where you have a couple guys in front of you, if that makes any sense, and still manage to contribute to the game.”

As the top seed, Denver has home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, which is important because they have a 37-7 mark at home this season, including the regular season and playoffs, the best winning percentage in the league through Tuesday games.

Michael Porter Jr. said the team should be proud of what they have just accomplished while also realizing there is hope for more in store for the Nuggets.

“We’re all very happy right now,” Porter said. “It was a hard-fought series. I mean, even five games seems like an eternity, you know what I mean? The playoffs are a long time, but we’re four down and up to 12 so that’s the goal. .”

#Nuggets #close #Wolves #Malone #Proud

Japan's space agency says its bid for the first commercial moon landing has failed

Japan’s space agency says its bid for the first commercial moon landing has failed

The threat with Google's new cloud backup for 2FA authenticators

The threat with Google’s new cloud backup for 2FA authenticators