Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets eliminate Phoenix Suns from NBA playoffs

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic (L) made 13 of 18 shots en route to a 32-point triple-double in a playoff win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday in Phoenix. Photo by Rick D'Elia/EPA-EFE
Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic (L) made 13 of 18 shots en route to a 32-point triple-double in a playoff win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday in Phoenix. Photo by Rick D'Elia/EPA-EFE

May 12 (UPI) -- Nikola Jokic recorded a 32-point triple-double to lead the Denver Nuggets to a Game 6 victory over the Phoenix Suns, clinching a ticket to the Western Conference finals.

Jokic made 13 of 18 shots and totaled 12 assists and 10 rebounds in the 125-100 triumph Thursday at Footprint Center in Phoenix. Nuggets guard Jamal Murray logged 26 points in the win.


The Nuggets will meet the Los Angeles Lakers or Golden State Warriors next week in the Western Conference finals.

"We have a nice opportunity to do something," Jokic told reporters. "We will see."

The Nuggets outscored the Suns 62-46 in the paint, 19-14 off fast breaks, 28-12 off the bench and led by as many as 32 points. The lead changed hands eight times in the first quarter before the Nuggets ended the frame on a 23-2 run to carry a 44-26 edge into the second. They never trailed again.


Nuggets guard Kentatvious Caldwell-Pope scored 17 of his 21 points in the first quarter. Jokic scored 14 over the first 12 minutes.

The Nuggets went on a 19-2 run in the second to take a 79-47 edge with 65 seconds remaining in the first half. They outscored the Suns 37-25 in the second quarter and led 81-51 at halftime.

The Suns outscored the Nuggets 49-44 over the final 24 minutes, but could not close the gap in the second half.

Suns guard Cameron Payne totaled 31 points in the loss. Forward Kevin Durant scored 23, with five assists and five rebounds for the Suns.

The top-seeded Nuggets, who beat the No. 4 Suns 4-2 in the series, will meet the winner of the Warriors-Lakers series in the Western Conference finals. The No. 7 Lakers lead that series 3-2. They will host the No. 6 Warriors in Game 6 at 10 p.m. EDT Friday in Los Angeles.

Game 7, if necessary, will be Sunday in San Francisco.

Earlier Thursday, the No. 2 Boston Celtics beat the No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers to extend the Eastern Conference semifinals series. Celtics guard Marcus Smart scored 22 points in the 95-86 victory in Philadelphia. The series is now tied 3-3.


Celtics star forward Jayson Tatum scored just three points through the first three quarters of Game 6. He then went off for 16 in the fourth quarter to clinch the win.

The Celtics outscored the 76ers 36-32 in the paint, 24-18 off fast breaks and 25-11 off the bench. They led by as many as 16 points.

The Celtics went on a 12-0 run to take a 15-3 lead off the tip off. The 76ers answered with nine unanswered points, but still trailed 29-22 to start the second quarter.

Each team netted 21 points over the next 12 minutes and the Celtics carried an 8-point edge into halftime. The 76ers went on a 13-2 run in the third and took a 5-point lead. They led 73-71 to start the fourth.

The lead changed hands seven times over the final 12 minutes. Tatum scored the final go-ahead points on a 3-pointer with 4:14 remaining. The Celtics outscored 14-3 from that point on to secure the win.

The No. 2 Celtics will face the No. 3 76ers in Game 7 on Sunday in Boston. The winner of the series will face the No. 8 Miami Heat or No. 5 New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals.


The Heat, who hold a 3-2 lead in that series, will host the Knicks in Game 6 at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Miami. Game 7, in necessary, will be Monday in New York.

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