Top Ad
I DIG Radio
Listen live to the best music from around the world!
I DIG Style
Learn about the latest fashion styles and more...

Nuggets silence critics with historic 3-1 comeback

Written by 
Published in Basketball
Wednesday, 16 September 2020 00:43

It was Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone's 49th birthday on Tuesday, and before Game 7 against the LA Clippers, center Nikola Jokic told his coach he had the perfect gift in mind.

"Coach, I'm going to get you a great present," he told Malone before the game. "I'm either going to get you home or get you to the Western Conference finals."

With a 104-89 win, making NBA history in the process as the first team to come back twice in one postseason from a 3-1 series deficit, Malone was happy to get the latter.

"So proud. All the guys, never got down, believed in each other. Believed in themselves," Malone said. "In light of all the noise outside this series that we had no chance. We have people guaranteeing it. We found a way to beat a really good team three times. I've run out of things to say."

After coming back from 3-1 down in the opening round against the Utah Jazz, the Nuggets had to overcome three consecutive double-digit deficits against the Clippers to win three straight games and advance to the Western Conference finals. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, the Nuggets are the first team in postseason history with three straight double-digit comeback wins when facing elimination.

"I think this is our sixth straight elimination game. Seventy-one days in the bubble and just to stay together, that commitment, that toughness is -- you don't see that around very often," Malone said, not actually running out of things to say. "That speaks to the guys in the locker room and how much they love each other. Just an amazing feeling."

Malone's message following Game 4 was simple: focus on winning the next game, and the next game only. It has become part of Denver's DNA to be pushed up against elimination, with a clear comfort level playing with their season on the line. The Nuggets' past four postseason series have gone seven games (3-1 in those series), and they're now 6-0 in elimination games this postseason.

But Malone has spent the past week reminding everyone -- his team included -- that this isn't some upstart bunch. The Nuggets finished second in the West last season in wins and were the third seed this season.

"Our goal was never to get to a Game 7," Malone said. "Our goal when we started this whole season was to win a championship. As outrageous as that may sound to people outside of our group, we never lost sight of that. We kept our belief in that."

As the Clippers' stars struggled, 23-year-old guard Jamal Murray shined again in a Game 7, scoring 40 points on 15-of-26 shooting in 45 minutes. Jokic was dominant, posting a triple-double (16 points, 22 rebounds, 13 assists), the second Game 7 triple-double of his career, tying Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo as the only players to do it.

"We are just not accepting that somebody's better than us," Jokic said.

The Nuggets embraced the chip on their shoulder, leaning into the nobody-believes-in-us mentality and relishing the opportunity to upend the assumed Battle of L.A. matchup between the Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers that so many predicted. Malone referred to his group as the "Bad News Bears" and himself as Coach Buttermaker on Monday and hasn't been shy about enjoying the role of spoiler.

It's a mindset his team has taken on, keeping the critics, experts and analysts at the front of their minds as they pushed back against the Jazz, and then the Clippers.

"You got [Shaquille O'Neal], you got Charles [Barkley], I think Zach Lowe ... Stephen A. [Smith], all y'all better start giving this team some damn respect," Murray said. "Because we put in the work. We shouldn't have been down 3-1, but to come back down 3-1 against the Clippers is a big achievement, so it's fun just to change that narrative."

Said Jokic: "Nobody wants us here. Nobody thinks we can do something. We prove ourselves and proved everybody we can do something."

Murray and Jokic dominated the final three games of the series, particularly late in games as the Clippers wore down. For Murray, it was his third 40-point game when facing elimination this postseason, becoming the first player in NBA history to score 40 or more in three elimination games in a single postseason, according to research by Elias Sports Bureau.

"We've got a lot of energy, and we brought it and they didn't match that," Murray said. "They got who they got. They've got a talented squad. They've got Doc [Rivers], too. They've got assistant coaches who are about to be head coaches. We know what they have, we just outworked them a little bit with our young legs."

The Nuggets move on to their first Western Conference finals appearance since 2009, when Carmelo Anthony led them into a matchup with ... the Lakers. For now, though, they're going to enjoy their upset of the Clippers before preparing for Game 1 against the Lakers on Friday.

"By no means are we satisfied," Malone said. "But I think you have to celebrate the moments. That's something I learned from my parents. This is a moment, it's my birthday, and we're going to go party.

"In the bubble," he clarified with a smile. "In the bubble."

The Nuggets have endured a grueling bubble experience, arriving in pieces as multiple players dealt with positive coronavirus tests. They've battled injuries, getting players healthy as they go. It's all pretty standard attrition stuff for Denver, part of the identity Malone & Co. have forged the past three seasons. They've played 14 playoff games in 28 days, and will have to get ready for a well-rested Lakers team that hasn't played since Saturday.

Again, the Nuggets will be underdogs. And again, they're just fine with it.

"They gotta worry about us, too," Jokic said.

Read 12 times

1 comment

Leave a comment


Philadelphia routs Inter Miami in Higuain debut

Philadelphia routs Inter Miami in Higuain debut

Anthony Fontana, Ilsinho and Brenden Aaronson each scored one goal to lift the host Philadelphia Uni...

Barca teen Fati living 'dream' starring with Messi

Barca teen Fati living 'dream' starring with Messi

Teenager Ansu Fati offered Barcelona a glimpse of what life may be like without Lionel Messi with a...

Ronaldo double helps Juve rally for Roma draw

Ronaldo double helps Juve rally for Roma draw

Cristiano Ronaldo's second goal of the night rescued a 2-2 draw for 10-man Juventus away to AS Roma...


Heat oust Celtics emphatically, advance to NBA Finals

Heat oust Celtics emphatically, advance to NBA Finals

The Miami Heat advanced to the NBA Finals with two more signature performances from Jimmy Butler and...

Wolves' Beasley facing felony gun, drug charges

Wolves' Beasley facing felony gun, drug charges

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley was arrested Saturday and is being held without bail on f...


LeMahieu wins AL batting title; Voit (22) most HRs

LeMahieu wins AL batting title; Voit (22) most HRs

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees lost six of their last eight regular-season games, which included s...

2020 MLB playoffs: Why this could be the wildest postseason ... ever

2020 MLB playoffs: Why this could be the wildest postseason ... ever

It will be a Major League Baseball postseason like we've never seen before: 16 teams, no fans, playe...

Sports Leagues

  • FIFA

    Fédération Internationale de Football Association
  • NBA

    National Basketball Association
  • ATP

    Association of Tennis Professionals
  • MLB

    Major League Baseball
  • ITTF

    International Table Tennis Federation

Sponsored Links

I DIG® Newspapers
I Dig® Newspapers, stay up to date with the latest news from around the world.
I DIG® Casino
I Dig® Casino, explore our online casino games, play a wide range of free slots and casino games at our online casino today.
I DIG® Radio
I Dig® Radio HD is the only place in the internet where you can find free, super high bit rate internet radio stations from around the world. On I Dig® Radio HD you can find free radio stations streaming at 256kbps.

About Us

I Dig® is a leading global brand that makes it more enjoyable to surf the internet, conduct transactions and access, share, and create information.  Today I Dig® attracts millions of users every month.


Phone: (800) 737. 6040
Fax: (800) 825 5558
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.