Nuggets Vs. Warriors score, takeaways: Nikola Jokic gets help from supporting cast as Denver forces game 5

The Denver Nuggets live to fight another day and are stuck in beating the Golden State Warriors, 126-121, on Sunday to force a Game 5 back in San Francisco. Nikola Jokic was the orchestrator on the offense, as usual, with 37 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but he received plenty of help, with great plays from Monte Morris, Aaron Gordon and Will Barton down the stretch.

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

Outside of Jokic, the story was Nuggets’ hot shooting. As a team, they went 15 for 31 from 3-point range, led by Morris, who made five of his seven attempts from long distance. Rookie Bones Hyland made three straight 3-pointers over a long stretch in the second quarter, and Will Barton made the game 3 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 Wednesday’s game 5 as the Nuggets try to extend the series.

Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s match, followed by a summary of our live updates.

1. Jokic gets help

Jokic averaged 29.3 points, 13 rebounds and five assists during the first three games of the series, but he had not yet received enough help from the support team to win. That changed on Sunday when just about every Nuggets role-player stepped up with a clutch shot or two – first to help build the big lead, then to fight the Warriors’ comeback. The biggest contributor was Morris, who went shot after shot with Thompson and made all of his five 3-pointers in the first eight minutes of the third quarter.

He also made one of the game’s biggest shots of the fourth quarter when the Warriors decided to play a box-and-one, with Kevon Looney at Jokic to prevent him from playing. After receiving a screen from Jokic, Morris acknowledged that instead of dropping out, Looney stayed with Jokic and left the center open. Morris came into his place and hit a hard float to give the Nuggets a two-point lead.

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

If the Nuggets were to stay in this series, they needed the role players to go up. They did so on Sunday and forced a game 5.

2. Poole party is overthrown

It was supposed to happen, but after averaging 28.7 points in his first three playoff games in his career, Jordan Poole finally came down to earth. He fought his way to 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting, including 1 of 5 from 3-point range with three turnovers. He was effective as a facilitator, but awarded nine assists.

“They were more physical with him tonight … That’s to be expected,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “The teams will start throwing a lot of stuff at him, including physicality, and try to get a little under the skin of him.”

The Warriors are a bit more tangible offensively if Poole does not play out of his mind, and it will be interesting to see – in this series and potentially the next – whether the Nuggets have developed some sort of plan to keep Golden State’s latest star under wraps.

The Joker or the Thinker?

We all know how much Jokic affects the game when he’s on the pitch, but in Game 4 he figured out a way to help his team, even when he’s on the bench. With Jokic out of the game for defensive purposes, the Warriors faced a crucial input, trailing by two with 33.5 seconds left. As the players took the field, Jokic got up from the bench and appeared to shout: “It’s a lob” to his teammates as he gestured an excessive movement with his hand.

Admittedly, the Warriors tried to lob it in to the Wiggins, and the Austin Rivers made a great game to break it up and give the Nuggets possession.

Kerr said after the fight that they went for a quick two-to-one, but that he “would like to call back.” It was perhaps the game of the game for the Nuggets – definitely the best defensive game – and they can partly thank their MVP, who was not even on the field when it happened.

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