Nuggets vs. Score Warriors takeaways: Nikola Jokic gets help from supporting cast as Denver forces Game 5 - New Style Motorsport

The Denver Nuggets live to fight another day, holding on to beat the Golden State Warriors, 126-121, on Sunday to force a Game 5 in San Francisco. Nikola Jokic orchestrated the offense as usual, putting up 37 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but he got plenty of help, with big plays from Monte Morris, Aaron Gordon and Will Barton down the stretch.

After losing as many as 17 points, the Warriors made a brave comeback with 33 points from Stephen Curry and 32 from Klay Thompson. However, they struggled to execute at both ends, after Draymond Green fouled out with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Andrew Wiggins added 20 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks for Golden State.

Outside of Jokic, the story was the Nuggets’ hot shot. As a team they were 15 of 31 from 3-point range, led by Morris, who made five of his seven attempts from long range. Rookie Bones Hyland hit three straight 3-pointers during a big second-quarter streak and Will Barton hit the 3-pointer from the corner with eight seconds left.

The Warriors will now look to advance to the second round in front of their home crowd in Game 5 on Wednesday as the Nuggets try to extend the series.

Here are some takeaways from Sunday’s game, followed by a recap of our live updates.

1. Jokic gets help

Jokic averaged 29.3 points, 13 rebounds and five assists through the first three games of the series, but had yet to get enough help from the supporting cast to pull off a win. That changed on Sunday, as nearly every Nuggets player stepped up with a clutch shot or two, first to help build a big lead, then to fight off the Warriors’ comeback. The biggest contributor was Morris, who played shot for shot with Thompson and hit all five of his 3-pointers in the first eight minutes of the third quarter.

He also made one of the game’s biggest shots in the fourth quarter, when the Warriors decided to box-and-one, with Kevon Looney on Jokic to prevent him from making a play. After receiving a screen from Jokic, Morris acknowledged that instead of going down, Looney stayed with Jokic, leaving the middle wide open. Morris stepped in for him and hit a hard floater to give the Nuggets a two-point lead.

Gordon also hit a mid-range jumper over Green late in the fourth quarter and, of course, Barton knocked down the clincher of a pass from Jokic to put the nail in the Warriors’ coffin.

If the Nuggets were going to stay in this series, they needed role players to step up. They did it on Sunday and forced a Game 5.

2. Poole’s party crashes

It was meant to be, but after averaging 28.7 points in the first three playoff games of his career, Jordan Poole finally came down to Earth. He battled his way to 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range to go with three turnovers. However, he was effective as a facilitator, dishing out nine assists.

“They were more physical with him tonight … That was to be expected,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “Teams are going to start throwing a lot of things at him, including physicality, trying to get a little bit under his skin.”

The Warriors are a little more controllable offensively if Poole isn’t playing crazy, and it will be interesting to see, in this series and possibly the next, if the Nuggets have developed some sort of plan to keep Golden State’s new star under wraps.

3. The Joker or The Thinker?

We all know how much Jokic affects the game when he’s on the court, but in Game 4 he found a way to help his team even when he was on the bench. With Jokic out for defensive reasons, the Warriors faced a crucial inning play, trailing by two with 33.5 seconds remaining. As the players walked onto the court, Jokic got up from the bench and appeared to yell at his teammates, “It’s a balloon,” making an exaggerated hand gesture.

Sure enough, the Warriors tried to throw him to Wiggins, and Austin Rivers made a tremendous play to break him up and give the Nuggets possession.

Kerr said after the game that they were going for a quick two-for-one, but that he “would like a call back.” It was perhaps the play of the game for the Nuggets, definitely the best defensive play, and they can partly thank their MVP, who wasn’t even on the court when it happened.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *