Raptors knot up series with Celtics to 2-2

JAMAL MURRAY scored 27 points and Nikola Jokic had 26 points and 18 rebounds, leading the Denver Nuggets to a 110-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal on Saturday in the bubble near Orlando.

Paul Millsap and Gary Harris added 13 points each for the Nuggets, who evened the series at a game apiece. Michael Porter Jr. chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds.

Paul George had 22 points and eight rebounds and Ivica Zubac had 15 points and nine boards for Los Angeles. Kawhi Leonard had a sub-par performance with 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting, his lowest output of the playoffs. Lou Williams also scored 13, while JaMychal Green contributed 10 points and 11 boards for the Clippers.

After trailing by double digits for much of the contest, Los Angeles closed within 91-86 after a 3-pointer by George with 8:36 left. However, a basket by Jokic, consecutive 3-pointers by Harris and two foul shots by Jerami Grant increased the lead to 101-86 more than three minutes later.

A layup by Williams cut the margin to 104-96 but Harris nailed a 3-pointer with 1:37 remaining to boost the lead to 11. The Clippers pulled within eight again, but two technicals on Patrick Beverley, who was ejected, allowed the Nuggets to clinch the win with free throws.

The Nuggets roared to a 44-25 lead after one quarter behind 15 points from Jokic. They shot 70.8% from the floor and converted seven of 11 3-pointers. Jokic hit all three of his 3-point attempts.

Although Denver, which led by as much as 23 in the first half, cooled off in the second quarter, it managed to take a 72-56 advantage at the break. Jokic had 24 points in the first half as the Nuggets outshot the Clippers 56% to 47.7%.

For the game, the Nuggets made 45.1% of their shots to 40.9% for the Clippers.

Pascal Siakam scored a series-best 23 points, Kyle Lowry added 22 and the Toronto Raptors evened their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 100-93 win over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night near Orlando.

Serge Ibaka scored 18 points and Fred VanVleet by 17 as the Raptors knotted the series after falling behind 2-0. Siakam and Lowry each had double-doubles with 11 rebounds apiece.

Jayson Tatum had 24 points and Kemba Walker 15 for the Celtics, who lost their second straight after six consecutive wins to begin the playoffs.

Siakam, Lowry and VanVleet each played north of 40 minutes for Toronto, while Tatum, Walker and Marcus Smart did the same for Boston.

Shooting 28.3% from 3-point range through the first three games, the Raptors went 17-of-44 (38.6%) from deep in the win. Conversely, the Celtics only hit seven of their 35 such chances (20.0%).

A Lowry 3-pointer gave Toronto an 85-75 lead with 10:53 remaining in the fourth quarter. Boston got within five, 91-86, on a Jaylen Brown three, his first hit from deep in 10 chances.

Lowry responded with a three, and the Raptors led 94-86 with 4:44 to go. Toronto went up 98-87 on two Lowry free throws with 2:20 left and held on.

Tied at halftime, the Raptors began the third with a 14-7 run for a 63-56 lead. The Celtics were within four, 70-66, with 2:40 left before VanVleet hit a pair of threes around an Ibaka trey during a 9-2 spurt for the game’s first double-digit lead, 79-68.

The Raptors led from 6:48 of the first quarter until the Celtics equalized at 40 on a Smart three-point play with 4:13 to go in the half. Boston grabbed its first lead of the game, 46-44, on a pair of Semi Ojeleye free throws with 2:11 left. — Reuters