The Denver Nuggets have avoided elimination by beating Joe Ingles’ Utah Jazz 117-107 on Tuesday to extend their western conference play-off series.
The Nuggets trail the sixth-seeded Jazz 3-2 with Game 6 on Thursday.
Jamal Murray scored 33 of his 42 points in a second half where he played every minute with the Nuggets guard virtually unstoppable down the stretch.
He hit 17 of 26 shots and had eight assists, including a pass to Nikola Jokic for a three-pointer with less than 24 seconds remaining that sealed the win.
The dynamic tandem of Murray and Jokic clearly weren’t ready to leave the NBA bubble just yet.
Jokic had it going early as he scored 21 of his 31 points in the the first quarter.
Murray took over late after his team fell behind by as many as 15 points in the third quarter.
“We’ve all got a will to win. Simple as that,” explained Murray, who played through a bruise on his knee.
“That can carrying you. That can take you places.”
Donovan Mitchell finished with 30 points while Jordan Clarkson added 17 off the bench and Australian swingman Ingles found his rhythm with 13 points.
Ingles had a combined two points in the previous two games.
“I thought at some level, we just lost our composure when we were ahead,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
Meanwhile, Paul George finally found his way as the Los Angeles Clippers steamrolled the Dallas Mavericks 154-111 to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round match-up.
George had struggled in the series and endured fans’ wrath on social media but the All-Star scored 35 points in just 25 minutes.
He said he spoke to the team psychiatrist before Game 5.
“I mean, whatever it was, the bubble got the best of me,” George said.
“I was just in a dark place. I really wasn’t here. I checked out. The past couple of games, it was just difficult.”
George said it didn’t feel like the playoffs until his teammates decided to create the atmosphere that was lacking inside the NBA’s Walt Disney World bubble.
Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points for the Clippers, who set a franchise record for points in a play-off game – their 154 is the third-most in post-season history.
Los Angeles can clinch the series on Thursday with Dallas hopeful that star 220cm big-man Kristaps Porzingis will return after sitting out the past two games with right knee soreness.