Jun 11, 2021
NBA playoffs: Jazz hold off Clippers comeback to take 2-0 lead
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Donovan Mitchell has 82 points through two games, and the Utah Jazz have a 2-0 series lead.The two facts are very much related. © Provided by Yahoo! Sports Donovan Mitchell is shooting the Utah Jazz to the Western Conference finals. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Behind another brilliant night from Mitchell, this time scoring 37 points two days after scoring 45, the Jazz defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 117-111 on Thursday to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
In addition to Mitchell, the Jazz saw a monster night from Rudy Gobert in the paint, with the Defensive Player of the Year scoring 12 points and hauling in 20 rebounds with three blocks. Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson also chipped in 24 points off the bench, shooting 6-of-9 from deep.Jazz hold on after blowing 21-point lead in second half
DONOVAN. MITCHELL. pic.twitter.com/tLPFLMPFUL— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 11, 2021
The Jazz appeared to put the game away early in the second quarter, building up a 21-point lead as the Clippers looked listless on offense. A change in defense ended up sparking Los Angeles though, switching to a zone and aggressively guarding Mitchell high in the halfcourt. The lead was only seven points by the start of the fourth quarter.
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The Jazz never trailed in the first three quarters of the game, with the Clippers pulling within one possession 12 different times during that span, plus three more times in the first minutes of the fourth quarter. They finally took their first lead on a Reggie Jackson 3-pointer:
THE CLIPPERS HAVE THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/IJFP9NJ4gM— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) June 11, 2021
That would be the high point for the Clippers, though, as the Jazz responded with a 15-4 run to take back the lead.
Jackson ended up leading the Clippers with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting (4-of-8 from deep), while Paul George had 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. The Jazz had another strong game containing Kawhi Leonard, who had only 21 points and just couldn't penetrate the paint with Gobert on patrol.Donovan Mitchell on ankle: 'I'm fine now'
Of concern for the Jazz was Mitchell appearing to turn his ankle in the fourth quarter after colliding with George. Mitchell missed the final 16 games of the regular season and first game of the playoffs due to an ankle sprain, but said after the game he felt fine:
Donovan Mitchell: "I got hit, and it hurt, but I'm fine now. I walked in here. I can sprint for you if you want me to. ... S--- happens."— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 11, 2021
Game 3 is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PT on Saturday in Los Angeles.
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Tags: i’m fine now ’m fine now the western conference the fourth quarter player of the year the second quarter donovan mitchell pic twitter com minutes the utah jazz mitchell the clippers in the first the game los angeles
Suns sweep Nuggets to reach West finals after tempers flare
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DENVER — The Phoenix Suns roared into the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 11 years Sunday night with a testy 125-118 victory over Denver that completed a four-game sweep of the Nuggets and included MVP Nikola Jokic’s ejection.
Chris Paul scored 37 points and Devin Booker added 34 in a physical game marred by Jokic’s ejection.
Jokic was tossed with 3:52 left in the third quarter and the Nuggets trailing 83-76 after his hard right-hand windmill swipe sent the basketball flying but also caught Cameron Payne in the face.
Booker took umbrage at the hard foul and got in the big man’s face before teammates and coaches pulled everyone apart.
Officials assessed a double technical on Jokic and Booker and ejected the MVP after upping the call to a Flagrant 2. Jokic finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes.
The Nuggets and their fans at Ball Arena were frustrated that they were getting called for ticky-tack fouls yet Jokic wasn’t getting the calls expected of a Most Valuable Player.Nikola Jokic is held back from Devin Booker after a play that would result in Jokic’s ejection in Game 4 on Sunday night.Getty Images
With their franchise-record seventh straight playoff victory, the Suns advanced to the conference championship for the first time since 2010 — the last time they even reached the playoffs.
After knocking out LeBron James and the defending champion Lakers in Round 1, the Suns quickly dispatched Denver and made Jokic the first MVP to get swept in a playoff series since Magic Johnson in 1989.
Will Barton led Denver, which trailed by 13 heading into the fourth quarter, with 25 points, Michael Porter Jr. added 20 and Monte Morris 19.
The Nuggets survived the loss of star Jamal Murray to a torn ACL on April 12, winning 13 of 18 to close out the regular season and taking care of the Portland Trail Blazers in five games in the opening round.
But when second scoring option Porter tweaked his surgically repaired back in the first half of Game 1 against Phoenix, it was one injury too far for the Nuggets to overcome.Chris Paul scored 37 points for the Suns in Game 4.Getty Images
Denver coach Michael Malone said before tip-off that the Nuggets couldn’t really rely on their experience from the bubble in overcoming a pair of 3-1 deficits in the playoffs last year. For one thing, Murray’s recovering from knee surgery.
Malone said the Nuggets’ only focus was on sending this series back to Phoenix for a Game 5.
Instead, Jokic became the first MVP to get swept in a playoff series since the Pistons downed Magic Johnson and the Lakers in four in the NBA Finals in 1989.
Jokic’s ejection came 48 hours after an emotional celebration before Game 3 in which the Serbian dedicated his MVP trophy to his teammates, coaches, trainers and the front office.
The only NBA player to play all 72 games this season, Jokic spent the fourth quarter in his locker room as his teammates’ comeback without him fell short.
Despite the sweep and Jokic’s early exit, fans chanted, “MVP! MVP” as they streamed out of the arena.Filed under denver nuggets , nba playoffs , nba playoffs 2021 , nikola jokic , phoenix suns , 6/13/21