The history of the Denver Nuggets could go back to 1949 , the first year of the league under the NBA acronym, and where a modest team, the furthest away on the map at the time, dared to try its luck in the professional world. That experience only lasted six months and did not give them the budget or the sporting level to even complete the course. Success was not what Carl Scheer set his sights on when in 1975 he decided to change the name of his organization, taking inspiration from that team that would soon become just another anecdote in encyclopedias.
At that time the ABA was in a war on two fronts. On the one hand, the rebel league was negotiating to unite its paths with the NBA. And on the other, they were in a legal battle over a possible case of monopoly. Scheer, General Manager of the Denver team, with his mind set on what could happen, chose to change the name of the franchise from the Rockets to Nuggets. In this way, he avoided a possible conflict of interest with the NBA franchise in Houston and, incidentally, connected the group with the history of the city. A story that that ABA franchise soon overlapped is that talking about the Denver Nuggets in the rival league is doing it with one of the most renowned and long-running organizations in that competition.
Under the spotlights of the Denver Auditorium Arena and the McNichols Arena, some of the most recognizable names of the 70s could be seen, such as Spencer Haywood (MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season), Bobby Jones, Dan Issel, Larry Brown and of course David Thompson. Such was the success of those Nuggets that in the 1975-1976 season they chained 25 consecutive nights with all the tickets sold. A success given the circumstances.
Names that have been as buried by time as their passing through the late ABA has done, which brought the greatest joy to the city of Colorado. At least until the arrival of Nikola Jokic.
And it is that in 1976 the Denver Nuggets played what was, until 2023, their only Final series for a championship . A tie against the New York Nets that, once again, ended up going down in memory thanks to the leadership of a legendary Julius Erving. However, it is necessary to stop and recover the story of what was the greatest milestone for an organization with 55 years of experience.
Jokic delivered in different ways over the course of the game. His 30 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists were good his eighth triple-double in 15 postseason games, good for the most of any single postseason. He once again passed Wilt Chamberlain for the record.
“I think he’s shown other people, nationally, that he’s real. Like, what he’s doing is real. The MVPs are real. The triple-doubles are real. All the narratives, the silly narratives this year were just that – silly and somewhat ignorant,” Malone said. “I think Nikola has gone through three rounds now where he’s averaging a triple-double in the playoffs. Have you seen any stat padding out there? I’m serious. Enough of the silliness, like the guy is a great player. Give him his damn respect.”
The winner of the NBA’s first Western Conference Finals Most Valuable Player award scored a couple of points and grabbed a couple of rebounds in the first quarter but got two other key players going with six early assists. He set up all three of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 3-pointers in the first quarter and dished out two others to Aaron Gordon.
The Nuggets, though, are focused on getting four more wins. Considering how Murray and Jokic are playing as perhaps the most formidable duo in the league, an NBA championship feels closer than ever.
“We want to go all the way and stay locked in,” Murray said of himself and Jokic. “I think our chemistry is at an all-time high, the way we play, the way we read the game without even speaking. We talk that language on the court.
“It’s just beautiful basketball, honestly. It’s so fun to play with this team and with him and with the coaching staff that has groomed us into the team that we are. We’ve got four more wins to go.”
Jokic collected his NBA playoff-record eighth triple-double of the postseason with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists in 45 minutes. Five of his points came in the final 2:50 on perhaps the two biggest baskets of the game.
Jokic averaged a triple-double in the second round to eliminate Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns. And he averaged a triple-double to sweep James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers.
Once the game started, James made 7 of his first 9 shots, including one that was supposed to be a pass that dropped in from behind the 3-point arc. He had 21 points at the end of the first quarter, tied for the most in a first quarter when facing elimination by any player over the past 25 years, according to Stats & Information research.
He sank all four of his 3-point attempts and had 31 points by halftime, the most in a playoff half in his career.
“That first half was vintage LeBron James,” Malone said. “Having coached him for five years in Cleveland, he understood what time it was with their team, firmly back against the wall. In that first half he showed why he’s one of the all-time great players, literally put his team on his back and just went at us.”
James scored 21 points in the first quarter and worked desperately to keep the Lakers competitive in the final game of his 20th NBA season. But the Lakers couldn’t even force a Game 5, with an apparently exhausted Davis scoring 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and adding 14 rebounds.
Austin Reaves scored 17 points for the Lakers, who were swept in a playoff series for the 11th time in team history, including nine best-of-seven series.
The loss ended seventh-seeded Los Angeles’ incredible turnaround after starting the season 2-10 under new coach Darvin Ham. After bolstering their roster at the trade deadline and surging into the postseason with two months of strong play, the Lakers then knocked off second-seeded Memphis and eliminated defending champion Golden State to stir their worldwide fans’ hopes for one of the most unlikely championship runs in NBA history.
Facing elimination for the first time in their remarkable playoff run, James and the Lakers responded with their best half of the series, taking a 73-58 halftime lead on James’ broad shoulders. After tying his playoff career high for points in a quarter in his record 282nd postseason game, he matched his career high for points in any first half.
But the Nuggets responded with a 36-16 third quarter, taking their first lead less than eight minutes after halftime. Denver pushed its lead to seven before the Lakers rallied, with Davis’ putback dunk tying it with 5:02 to play.
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