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Murray scores 34 as Nuggets even series

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Jamal Murray
Denver Nuggets’ guard Jamal Murray (27) reacts after being fouled by Portland Trail Blazers’ forward Al-Farouq Aminu (left) as all-star guard Damian Lillard looks on in the second half of game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Moda Center. -- JAIME VALDEZ-USA TODAY SPORTS

LOS ANGELES — Jamal Murray scored 34 points and Nikola Jokic collected 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as the visiting Denver Nuggets wrested back homecourt advantage with a 116-112 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday.

The Nuggets’ win squared the best-of-seven series at 2-2, with Game 5 Tuesday night in Denver.

Murray was 11-for-11 from the free-throw line, including six in the final 13.2 seconds to help the Nuggets stave off the Blazers. The 7-foot Jokic registered his second straight triple-double and his fourth of the postseason. Denver also got 21 points and 10 rebounds from Paul Millsap.

CJ McCollum scored 29 points and Damian Lillard added 28 for the Blazers.

Seth Curry came off the bench for 16 points on six-for-nine shooting — four-for-six from 3-point range. Curry had 14 of his points in the second quarter as the Blazers seized a 63-57 lead at halftime.

Four Blazers were in double figures by the break, including Al-Farouq Aminu (13), McCollum (12) and Lillard (10). Murray led Denver with 17 points.




The Nuggets went ahead 75-72 midway through the third quarter. Outscoring Portland 27-14 in the quarter, they carried an 84-77 advantage into the final period.

Denver led 87-77 before the Blazers went on an 8-0 tear to draw within 87-85. The Nuggets were in front 94-88 when Lillard sank a 3-pointer to cut it to 94-91 with 6:14 remaining. Denver stoked the difference to 99-93 with 5:16 left.

Lillard hit a pair of foul shots to close it to 99-98 with 3:26 to play. Will Barton’s 3 gave Denver a 102-98 lead, but Lillard answered with a layup to make it 102-100. After Gary Harris and McCollum traded baskets, Barton buried another 3 for a 107-102 Denver lead with 1:38 to go.

Aminu scored on a floater to cut it to 107-104, but Harris converted a three-point play for a 110-104 Denver lead with 1:03 remaining.

Rodney Hood hit a corner 3 with 52.2 seconds to go to trim the difference to 110-107. Lillard split a pair at the line to make it 110-108 with 20.3 seconds left. Two free throws by Murray increased the Nuggets’ edge to 112-108 with 13.2 seconds on the clock.

After Lillard scored on a layup with 7.7 seconds remaining, Murray hit a pair of free throws to make it 114-110 with 6.7 seconds to play. McCollum scored on a long two-point shot to cut it to 114-112 with 4.4 seconds to go, but Murray clinched it with another pair at the line with 3.4 ticks left.

KAWHI CARRIES TORONTO OVER PHILADELPHIA IN GAME 4
Kawhi Leonard had 39 points and 14 rebounds and the second-seeded Toronto Raptors defeated the host Philadelphia 76ers 101-96 on Sunday to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at two games apiece.

Kawhi Leonard
Toronto Raptors’ forward Kawhi Leonard (2) goes for a layup against Philadelphia 76ers’ center Greg Monroe (55) during the second quarter in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. — BILL STREICHER-USA TODAY SPORTS

Marc Gasol scored 16 points and Kyle Lowry added 14 points and seven assists for Toronto.

Pascal Siakam, who had been doubtful with a sore calf, was in the starting lineup and missed his first seven shots, but he gave the Raptors a lift with nine points and three steals.

Game Five is Tuesday in Toronto.

Jimmy Butler paced the third-seeded Sixers with 29 points and 11 rebounds while JJ Redick added 19. Joel Embiid, who was reportedly ill, had only 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists one game after scoring 33 in Philadelphia’s Game 3 victory.

Leonard was terrific with 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Raptors pulled ahead 47-45 at halftime. It was the first time in Leonard’s career that he posted at least 15 points and 10 rebounds in any half.

Butler was the only Philadelphia player in double figures with 14 points in the first half. Embiid appeared to be bothered by a left leg issue and finished the first two quarters with only six points and five rebounds.

Butler hit a difficult 3-pointer from the wing and the Sixers pulled ahead 57-52 with 7:48 left in the third.

Siakam finally recorded his first basket when he received a pass from Lowry and threw down a dunk for a 66-65 Raptors advantage with 4:15 remaining in the third.

Harris later drained a 3-pointer to give the Sixers a two-point lead with under a minute left in the quarter. Serge Ibaka then hit a jump hook in the lane and the Raptors tied the game at 75 at the end of the third.

The game became quite chippy with bodies falling to the floor and both teams diving for loose balls while playing a physical brand of basketball.

Leonard hit 1 of 2 two free throws and Toronto led 85-84 with 6:20 left.

Despite missing nine straight shots, the Sixers still trailed by only 89-87 with 2:35 remaining after a pair of Butler free throws.

Leonard’s trey with the shot clock running out gave the Raptors a 94-90 advantage with 1:01 left, and after Tobias Harris missed a 3-pointer on the 76ers’ ensuing possession, Toronto sealed the win by making 7 of 10 free throws down the stretch. — Reuters

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