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WASHINGTON: Nikola Jokic scored 37 points and the Denver Nuggets avoided being swept from the NBA playoffs on Sunday, beating the Golden State Warriors 126-121.

The 27-year-old Serbian, the NBA’s most valuable player last season, also had eight rebounds and six assists as the Nuggets went 3-1 in their best-ever Western Conference first-round series. of the seven, to force a fifth game on Wednesday. in San Francisco.

Defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and top-seeded Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference pushed their streak to 3-1 with lopsided wins.

The Bucks routed the Chicago Bulls 119-95 and the Heat outscored the Atlanta Hawks 110-86.

The New Orleans Pelicans, the last team to clinch their playoff berth, beat the top-seeded Phoenix Suns 118-103 to tie their streak two games apiece.

Jokic acknowledged the Nuggets were determined to avoid a home sweep against the Warriors.

“We fought,” Jokic said. “We didn’t want to get swept away. We are more proud of ourselves.

After Stephen Curry landed a long jumper to give Golden State a 121-119 lead with 1:21 remaining, Jokic made a layup, Monte Morris sank a jumper at 33 seconds and, after a steal by Austin Rivers, Jokic fired a pass to Will Barton for the decisive three-point corner with 8.3 seconds left.

No team in NBA history has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series, but Jokic says the Nuggets have the spirit to make history.

“We really have a second wind, so why not? he said.

In the 2020 playoffs contested in the coronavirus bubble, the Nuggets became the first team to rally 3-1 in a series twice in the same postseason.

“Can I say we have them where we want them? No,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “But we are alive.”

Morris had 24 points and Aaron Gordon added 21 for Denver.

Curry had 33 on the bench — 15 in the fourth quarter — to lead Golden State, while Klay Thompson had 32 in his first 30-point playoff game since the 2019 NBA Finals.

In Chicago, Giannis Antetokounmpo had game highs of 32 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Bucks. The Greek star also had seven assists and blocked two shots to put the Bucks in control as they head home for Game 5 on Wednesday.

Bucks reserve Grayson Allen scored a playoff career-high 27 of 10 of 12 shooting, 6 of 7 three-pointers, while Jrue Holiday added 26 points and Bobby Portis had 14 for Milwaukee, who were at again without injury striker Khris Middleton.

The Bulls, who haven’t won a playoff game at home since 2015, were led by Zach LaVine with 24 points and 13 assists while DeMar DeRozan added 23 points.

Jimmy Butler led the Heat in Miami, scoring 36 points to put the team close to advancing.

Miami held Atlanta star Trae Young to just nine points on 3-for-11 shooting — all three of his three-pointers.

“They put the pressure on and we just couldn’t match it,” Young said.

Butler added 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals for a Heat team that was without Kyle Lowry, who was sidelined with a hamstring strain but was a vocal presence off the bench.

Trailing by one after the first quarter, the Heat took control with a 30-15 second quarter that featured a 15-0 run and ended with an 11-0 surge. . They will try to close it on their floor on Tuesday.

Phoenix, which led the league with 64 regular-season wins, finds itself at home for Game 5 tied 2-2 with a young Pelicans team that harassed them throughout a sometimes tense battle at New -Orleans.

Brandon Ingram scored 30 points and Jonas Valanciunas added a playoff career-high 26 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Pelicans against a Suns team missing leading scorer Devin Booker, sidelined the rest of the series with hamstring strain.

Phoenix, led by 23 points from DeAndre Ayton, led 51-49 at halftime.

But New Orleans edged Phoenix by 13 points in the third quarter to take a 10-point lead and put it away with a 12-0 run that pushed its lead to 16 points midway through the final period.

Suns star Chris Paul, harassed all night by New Orleans’ Jose Alvarado, scored just four points with 11 assists and was called for one of three technical fouls against the Suns.

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