Denver has held on for a 80-78 game seven win against Utah to progress to a second-round series against the LA Clippers.
It wasn’t as free-flowing or high scoring as the rest of the series, but game sevens rarely are.
Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray had been historically good from three-point range in games one to six and entered Wednesday’s decider locked on 31 three-point makes for the series.
But they both failed to connect from deep in a low-scoring first half, which the Nuggets dominated to lead 50-36 at halftime.
Mitchell found his groove as the Jazz rallied in the second half, hitting a pair of triples to break the NBA record of 32 set by Stephen Curry for Golden State against Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
The Jazz recovered from an 18-point third quarter deficit to tie the game at 70-70 with five minutes remaining.
But Nikola Jokic, who had been overshadowed by the stunning guard play earlier in the series, hit a tough hook shot over Rudy Gobert with 27 seconds left before a buzzer-beating three-point attempt by the Jazz’s Mike Conley rimmed out.
Jokic was the star of the game finishing with 30 points and 14 rebounds. Murray struggled with his shot all game and had just 17 points on 7/21 shooting.
Gobert was immense for Utah, especially in the fourth quarter, as he recorded 19 points and 18 rebounds and Mitchell finished with 22 points and nine boards.
CELTICS TOO SMART FOR RAPTORS
Jayson Tatum scored a career playoff high 34 points and Marcus Smart drained five three pointers in the fourth quarter as the Boston Celtics rallied to beat Toronto 102-99 in game two of their Eastern Conference series.
Kemba Walker finished with 17 points and Jaylen Brown had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Celtics, who grabbed a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series. Game three is Friday.
“Marcus Smart has been a winner since he’s gotten here,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens of Smart, who finished with 19 points and six threes. “We’ve been in the playoffs every year since he’s been here and that’s not a coincidence.”
The teams were tied 28-28 at the end of the first quarter but the defending NBA champion Raptors led 78-70 heading into the fourth.
O.G. Anunoby scored 20 points, Fred VanVleet finished with 19 points and seven assists and Pascal Siakam tallied 17 points for the Raptors, who had chances to pull even but made some uncharacteristic mistakes down the stretch.
Kyle Lowry made a pair of free throws with 61 seconds remaining to cut the Celtics lead to just one, 100-99, but that was as close as Toronto would get.
With three seconds left, VanVleet launched a desperation three-pointer that would have tied it and forced overtime but his shot missed.
Losing has been an unfamiliar feeling for the Raptors in the NBA bubble. Toronto had only lost one game during the seeding round, a 122-100 setback to the Celtics.
Toronto had an eight-game winning streak heading into the start of this series but have now lost both games to Boston.