Nikola Jokic hit a triple-double after reconciling with Suns owner Mat Ishbia, and Michael Porter Jr. hit five 3-pointers to help the Denver Nuggets beat Phoenix 118-102 Tuesday in Game 5 to rebound the series lead.
Joker had 29 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists for his 10th career playoff triple-double, breaking a tie with Wilt Chamberlain for the most by a center in NBA history.
Game 6 is Thursday night in Phoenix. The home team has won every game in the series. If that’s true again, the deciding winner-take-all game will come Sunday in Denver, where the top-seeded Nuggets own the best home record in the NBA at 39-7, including 5. -0 in the playoffs.
After Denver lost two straight games in Phoenix, Nuggets coach Michael Malone came up with a five-point plan for the Nuggets to regain control of the series: patch up their transition defense, slow down Devin Booker, get more from your bench, unleash MPJ and take down. 3 sec.
Check, check, check, check and check.
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Porter rebounded from a rough night in Game 4 with 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting from long range. Denver outscored Phoenix 31-23 on fast-break points; Booker scored 28 points but missed 11 of 19 shots; Bruce Brown powered the Nuggets bench with 25 points and the Nuggets sank 13 of 27 from long range.
Kevin Durant chipped in 26 points for Phoenix.
The Nuggets turned a three-point halftime lead into a 91-74 lead with a dominating third quarter in which Jokic made 7-of-8 shots for 17 points and Booker was just 1-of-8 for 3 points.
The roughness of the series reached a new level in the last minute of the third quarter when Nuggets forward Brown antagonized the Suns as they huddled on the court and Durant gave Jokic a chill up his forearm. A double technique was evaluated on Durant and Brown.
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Before the game, Jokic shared a warm hug before the game, and the basketball, with Ishbia 48 hours after their fight over a fumble in Phoenix in Game 4 resulted in a technical foul and a $25,000 fine for the great. Nuggets man.
«I was hoping he would pay my fine,» Jokic joked after the game.
The Nuggets jumped out to an early 14-point lead, but the Suns trailed just 52-49 at halftime, and the game might have been tied if Booker’s near-half-court shot had left his hands just a tick earlier.
The Suns spooked with 2.4 seconds left in the first quarter when Booker sprained his left ankle after being fouled by Jeff Green on a layup attempt. Several minutes later, the Nuggets spooked when Murray sprained his right ankle and walked cautiously, shaking off to stay in the game.
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Suns: Phoenix surrendered the first nine points of the game before Cameron Payne’s long 3-pointer at 9:33. … Sitting on the field next to Ishbia was Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker, derisively known in much of Colorado as «Midnight Mel» for his departure from work for the Buffaloes just hours after telling the fans boosters that he was in Boulder to stay.
Nuggets: This marked the first game of the series in which the leader after one quarter held on to win the game. … The Nuggets held the Suns without a point for more than 2 minutes in each of the first three quarters and Phoenix’s first scoop of the fourth quarter came at 10:16 Mar on a scoop by Durant.