Paul Millsap scored 14 of his 17 points in the third quarter, Michael Porter Jr. made a late 3-pointer, and the Denver Nuggets overcame a 15-point deficit in the second half to stun the Los Angeles Clippers 111-105 on Friday night's game 5.
Denver – 16 points behind in the first half – was 9:42 in the third half between 61 and 46 before catching up behind 35-year-old Millsap.
The nuggets went left at 7:06 for the first time on Nikola Jokic's 3-hand, expanding it to eight. After the Clippers dragged into a basket, Porter hit a deep 3-pointer, leaving 1:11 for all of them, but wrapped it up.
Jamal Murray finished the race with 26 points and Jokic added 22 points and 14 rebounds to help the Nuggets win 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. Game 6 is Sunday.
This was Denver's fourth elimination game win that postseason, the largest since winning six win-or-go home games in the 1994 playoff run. The Nuggets came back from 3-1 deficit and won their first round against Utah.
Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points and Paul George added 26 for the Clippers looking to make the franchise's first appearance in a conference finale. They are 0-6 in games where they could win a trip to the conference finals.
Millsap and Marcus Morris saw each other face-to-face at the end of the first half and had to be separated. Morris was given a technical foul.
Nuggets: Gary Harris fouled at 1:58. He had seven points.
Clippers: G Patrick Beverley finished with 10 points. … Morris added 12 points.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Nuggets coach Michael Malone pondered their memories on the 19th anniversary of September 11, 2001.
Rivers had just returned to Orlando after a trip to Australia when he woke up to the news that was starting to hit. Nearly 3,000 people were killed when al-Qaeda hijackers took control of four planes and sent two of the planes to New York's World Trade Center, one to the Pentagon and the fourth to a field in Pennsylvania.
“Like every American that day, we were in awe. We were sad and just needed answers, ”said Rivers. "It was a sad day for our country."
Malone worked in New York under coach Jeff Van Gundy and was in the team's practice facility. He remembered an equipment manager telling them to turn on the TV.
“It was surreal. You felt so vulnerable, ”Malone said. "I thought about it today, 19 years ago and with the tragic memories you have."
HEART TO HEART
Malone said he spoke with Porter about publicly expressing his frustrations with his role, as the rookie did after Game 4.
"During the playoffs the last thing you want is any kind of distraction," said Malone. "If these frustrations are there for Michael, for everyone, it's much better to keep these conversations inside, in the locker room, and among us."