1971 MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Day 2 of “The Ring’s The Thing: 50 Years-50 Champs.”

Lew Alcindor’s second season in the NBA. Led the league in scoring at 31.7 per game. 16 rebounds per game. Regular season and finals MVP. 2nd Team All-Defense and 1st Team All-League.

Oscar Robertson’s first year in Milwaukee. He was 32. 19 points per game. 8 assists per game. 2nd Team All-League.

This was the Bucks third season in the league. At the time they were in the Western Conference.

66-16 regular season record.

20 game win streak.

Led the league in scoring at 118.4 points per game. The Bucks were the only team to shoot over .500 from the field (.509)

12-2 playoff record. Defeating the Baltimore Bullets in the finals 4-0.

Jon McGlocklin, Bobby Dandridge and Greg Smith were key members of the club. Bobby D scored 18 points per game and pulled down 8 rebounds per game. McGlocklin scored 15 points per game, Smith 11.7.

Alcindor, McGlocklin and Smith all played 82 games. Oscar missed just 1 game.

Big Lew’s high game was 53, he did it twice against Boston and Cleveland. He also pulled down 30 rebounds against the Celtics.

The Big O had 3 triple doubles.

Larry Costello was the head coach.

Interesting find going through their schedule; they played the New York Knicks that season four times with New York winning three of the games.

It’s the Bucks only title in franchise history.

E-MAIL: hoops135@hoopscoach

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore

Milwaukee Bucks coach Larry Costello is surrounded by players Bob Dandridge (10), Lew Alcindor (33), Greg Smith, top right, Jon McClocklin (14) and Oscar Robertson (1). Costello, who won NBA titles as a player and coach and was one of the last to use the two-handed set shot, has died. He was 70. Costello died Tuesday, the NBA said. Costello played in five NBA All-Star games and twice led the league in foul shooting. (AP Photo)

THE RING’S THE THING – 1970

“The Ring’s The Thing: 50 Years. 50 Champs.”

My new daily assignment.

Starting from 1970 until this year, each day I will list the NBA champion.

Today we start with the 1970 New York Knicks.

Feel free to add your thoughts, memories, etc, on each team as they appear.

Knicks beat the Lakers 4-3 in the finals. 60-22 record.

At one point they won 18 straight.

Started the season 23-1.

Willis Reed was named MVP of the regular season and finals.

Red Holzman Coach-of-The-Year.

All 5 starters have had their jersey retired by the Knicks.

6 players averaged double figures in points.

Walt Frazier, Reed and Dave DeBusschere made 1st Team All-Defense.

“See the Ball,” and “Hit the Open Man.”

The late Pete Newell once said, “The Knicks were a team that every college coach wanted to take their team to watch them practice.”

E-MAIL: hoops135@hoopscoach

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore

LOCK AND TRAIL

Anthony Davis hit a 3-pointer from the left wing last night at the buzzer to give the Lakers a 106-104 game 2 victory over the Nuggets. LA now leads the best of seven series, 2-0.

Game 3 is Tuesday night.

A.D. finished with 31 points and 9 rebounds.

Everyone is talking about the last play of the game where LA had the ball out of bounds under their basket with 1.9 left in the game, trailing by 1 point. Davis slid over to the wing and received a bounce pass from Rajon Rondo, on point and on time. Mason Plumlee is getting blamed by all the critics for not staying with Davis, instead he pointed to Jerami Grant to switch out and pick up Davis. Too late.

“It’s not about making the shot. It’s about having the belief of just taking it and living with the result. You’re not gonna make them all. It’s having the confidence to take it,” said LeBron James.

James scored 26 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

Interesting note from TNT last night during the game. Most Runner Up MVP’s in NBA History: Larry Bird, LeBron James and Jerry West 4. Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Michael Jordan 3

The Lakers had 23 assists and 23 turnovers. Denver was at 22 and 19.

From the 3-point line LA made 13 of 36, Denver 8-24.

When I think of Anthony Davis and watch him play, I think back to his last game in college at Kentucky. In his only season in Lexington the Wildcats won the National Championship. In the final game against Kansas A.D. shot 1-10 from the field. That lone season he shot 3 for 20 from distance. Boy have times changed with his outside shooting.

Rookie Year in New Orleans Davis was 0-6 from 3 point range. His second and third seasons were shaky from distance but then he started to improve.

2-9, 1-12, 35-108, 40-134, 55-162, 48-145, and this year, his first season in LA, AD shot 72-218 from downtown. 12-30 for the 2020 playoffs.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 30 points. Jamal Murray had 25.

Rondo had 9 assists on the night. That’s a total of 18 in the two games. When Rondo’s playing days are over I can see him coaching a pro team.

The Lakers were 18-19 from the free-throw line, Denver 25-33.

Last week I heard someone on TV say that Alex Caruso gets a lot of criticism on social media. How is that possible? This guy is some teammate.

Lakers skills coach Phil Handy was assessed a technical foul…

The game was on TNT and boy do I miss Stan Van Gundy on the call.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT FROM LeBRON JAMES:

“It’s about the work you put in. The belief in yourself. It’s not about the doubters or the naysayers. Or people who is gonna talk about you and try to slander you and put you down and bring you down every single day. It’s not about them. What other people think doesn’t really matter. Anybody can talk from the outside.”

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT II FROM REGGIE MILLER:

“He’s (Dwight Howard) out here trying to punk Jokic. That’s all he’s really doing.”

Happy birthday Artis Gilmore, Sidney Moncrief and Doug Moe.

Always play the right way…

E-MAIL: hoops135@hotmail.com

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore

PICK UP POINT

Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat last night 117-106. Miami now leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Wednesday night.

Jaylen Brown 26 points, Jayson Tatum 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists. Kemba Walker 21 points and Marcus Smart had 20.

The Celtics are 16-1 when Brown scores 25 points or more.

Bam Adebayo 27 points and 16 rebounds. Tyler Herro scored 22.

Great to see Gordon Hayward back on the floor for the Celtics. Last night was his first appearance since August 17. Hayward played 30 minutes scored 6 points, had 5 rebounds and dished out 4 assists.

“He is a stabilizing force for our team,” Heat coach Brad Stevens said. “He just can make the right play and make a play for somebody else at the right time.”

Herro got busy in the first half scoring 18 points…That’s now 19 straight games in double figures for the rookie out of Kentucky.

At one point in the game we watched “Position-less basketball.” Not one “big” on the floor for either Celtics or Heat.

3-point shooting in the series: Heat 42-123 (.341) Celtics 34-96 (.354)

TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE:

7:30/TNT – Game 2 Western Conference Finals. Lakers lead Nuggets 1-0

So what, Maria Taylor of ESPN forgot to add Anthony Davis to the 1st, 2nd or 3rd team All-NBA. Twitter went bananas. Here’s my idea for who votes on these awards. Each NBA team has a TV and radio crew, right? Let’s have those people vote. Only thing is you can’t vote for a player from the team you broadcast.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT FROM JEFF VAN GUNDY:

“Instead of lashing out, self-reflect on what you could have done better. Let’s not confuse on court chemistry with off court chemistry. On court chemistry is, ‘are you going to play hard and together and play to win’? If you do those 3 things, it does not matter if you get along and hang out off the court.”

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT II FROM ERIK SPOELSTRA:

“Trust your work. Trust your habits. Trust each other.”

Happy birthday Dave Twardzik.

Always play the right way…

EMAIL: Hoops135@hotmail.com

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore

W.I.N.

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets last night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, 126-114. LA leads the series 1-0.

Anthony Davis led the way for the Lakers with 37 points and 10 rebounds.

LeBron James handed out 12 assists and scored 15 points in 30 minutes of action.

Nikola Jokic picked up a couple of early fouls which hindered his play. Jokic finished with 21 points in 25 minutes. Jamal Murray managed 21 points on 7-12 shooting.

“This was not a great game for us,” Nuggets Coach Michael Malone said.

The Lakers dished out 33 assists, turning it over just 11 times. That’s an incredible ratio. Rajon Rondo had 9 assists and 0 turnovers in 21 minutes. For the playoffs Rondo now has 44 assists and 13 turnovers. Frank Vogel on Rondo: “His voice is energy. His ability to compete on the defensive end. Bark out coverages, energizes our group. He settles everyone down. He creates good looks for those around him.”

Dwight Howard came off the bench for the Lakers and scored 13 points. Howard had played just 4 total minutes the past 4 games including 3 DNP’s.

Game 3 is Sunday.

TONIGHT’S NBA SCHEDULE:

8:30 ESPN Game 3 East Finals – Heat vs Celtics. Miami leads 2-0.

The NBA announced league MVP yesterday – Giannis Antetoumkpo of the Milwaukee Bucks won it. It’s the second straight season the Greek Freak was named Most Valuable in the league. The Bucks had the best record in the league. They won 56 games.

LeBron was asked last night about not winning it.

“It pissed me off. That’s my true answer. Out of 101 votes I got 16 1st place votes. I finished 2nd a lot in my career. The criteria has changed over the years.”

If I were sipping wine with LeBron after the those comments last night, I would say, “Bron, who cares about the regular season MVP?”

James received 16 first place votes, Giannis 85. I kinda thought that was a bit strange. His stats this year were 25.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 10.2 assists per game. He’s the first forward to lead the league in assists. “Giannis had a hell of a season,” James said.

Giannis numbers? 29.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG and 5.6 APG.

LeBron has won the award 4 times. He’s not been named MVP since 2012-13.

Let’s be honest, the award means NOTHING. Just like Coach-of-The-Year, Defensive Player of the Year and any other individual award. I’ve written about this before. No biggie.

All that matters is winning. And winning the championship is all that should be on LeBron’s mind.

The late, great Kobe Bryant won MVP of the regular season just one time in his 20 year career.

When you ask people how many MVP’s so and so has, you have to stop to think for a minute and probably Google it. But ask someone how many rings that guy has and you come up with the answer real fast.

Steve Nash won 2 MVP awards – deep down I am sure he would trade one of them for a championship ring.

LeBron mentioned the voting and criteria – he’s a bit confused as to how it has changed over the years.

“In 2012-2013 Marc Gasol won defensive-player-of-the year. But he made 2nd team all-defense. It’s like being MVP of the league, but you make 2nd team all-NBA.”

He has a good point. Bill Russell was MVP in 1962 but made 2nd team all-NBA that year. That year Wilt Chamberlain was 1st team all-league.

Living in Michigan the past 24 years, and coaching high school and college ball, pretty cool to see 3 Michigan-born players on the floor last night. Monte Morris, Kyle Kuzma and JaVale McGee.

David Hollander teaches a class at New York University, “How Basketball Can Save the World,” I bet it must be real cool. This was a class I needed at Central Michigan University. Every high school and college in America should have some sort of class pertaining to sports. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/17/sports/basketball/david-hollander-nyu-basketball.html

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT FROM BAM ADEBAYO:

“We got grit.”

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT II FROM LeBRON JAMES:

“I never came into this league to be M.V.P. or to be a champion. I’ve always just wanted to get better and better every single day, and those things will take care of itself. But some things is just out of my hand and some things you can’t control.”

Happy birthday Sidney Wicks.

Always play the right way…

E-MAIL: hoops135@hoopscoach

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore

SCHEMES

Tonight’s NBA Playoff Schedule:

9:00 PM – TNT – Game 1 West Finals. Nuggets-Lakers.

You often hear people say “so and so is a great coach.” You also hear people say “so and so is a bad coach.” No one is a “bad coach.” A coach can make a decision and it may not work. A coach makes a decision and it works. In basketball, if a guy doesn’t make a shot, turns the ball over or forgets to rotate on defense, we always point the finger at the coach. A guy scores, blocks a shot or you see a good ATO play, we say “they are well coached.”

Finger-pointing is popular in society. No one wants to be held accountable. Let’s blame it on someone. And usually the coach is the easy target.

Game 2 last night in the Eastern Conference finals was a good one. The Heat took a 2-0 lead in the series with a 106-101 win. Boston was up 13 at the half so Miami played some zone. I have seen this happen before. Teams come out and change up their D. Boston couldn’t make shots and they turned the ball over. Give the Heat a lot of credit. They played hard and defended like crazy.

In each game Miami has been down only to come back and win both games. It’s a great sign when teams don’t give up and battle back.

Jimmy Barista said it best, “Team effort.”

Goran Dragic scored 25 points last night on 10-19 shooting. Dragic also dished out 5 assists.

Bam Adebayo has been very good in the two games thus far. Game 1: 18 points – 6 rebounds – 9 assists. Game 2: 21 points – 10 rebounds – 4 assists.

“We got grit,” Adebayo said. “That’s about all I can tell you. We got grit, man.

Tyler Herro has been amazing. The rookie out of Kentucky scored 11 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and had 5 assists. Herro has scored in double figures in each Heat playoff game and has a streak of 18 straight games in double-figures.

Duncan Robinson was 6-12 from downtown last night. We all know about his journey. Started at Williams College, a D-3 school and then moved on to the University of Michigan and went undrafted. Now he’s starting for the Heat. Let’s not forget, he spent 4 years in Ann Arbor. Good coaching, outstanding attitude and a strong work ethic does wonders for a player.

Boston struggled with their “assists-to-turnovers” ratio. 19 assists. 20 turnovers.

In the two games Miami has shot 30-79 from deep, Boston is 25-70.

Kemba Walker scored 23 points for Boston.

Game 3 is Saturday.

And I am sorry but too much was made by people about the yelling and screaming last night in the Celtics locker room following the game.

The Daily Kubatko: (Tweet from Justin Kubatko) In 2019-20, Giannis Antetokounmpo became the third player in NBA history to average at least 25.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and 5.0 APG in consecutive seasons. The others to do so are Oscar Robertson (who had three such seasons in a row) and Russell Westbrook.

Basketball History 101: In 1962 Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game and 25.7 rebounds per game. . Wilt played every game of the season and played 48.5 minutes per game. He made 1st team All-NBA, but was not named MVP that year. Bill Russell won MVP. And Russ made 2nd team. Walt Bellamy, a rookie for the Chicago Packers averaged 31 points per game.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT FROM JEFF VAN GUNDY:

“I’m watching the Miami Heat bench this whole reset. Meyers Leonard could be the most engaged guy on the bench for someone who had his minutes taken away. Started often in the regular season. Now he never plays. His engagement is real.”

Happy birthday to the late Dennis Johnson.

Always play the right way…

E-MAIL: hoops135@hotmail.com

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

TONIGHT’S NBA SCHEDULE:

7:00 – ESPN Game 2 Eastern Conference Finals. Heat-Celtics. Miami leads series 1-0

I am not a big fan of individual awards in a team sport. MVP, Coach-of-The-Year, First team this, Second team that.

The only award I care about is winning.

Winning the championship.

Yesterday the NBA came out with their All-League teams. Of course you had critics going off on who didn’t make it?

Bradley Beal was trending yesterday – people were upset he didn’t make first, second or third team. Beal averaged 30.5 points per game this year. Walt Bellamy averaged 31.6 points per game back in 1962 but the league only had two teams and Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell took up those spots. Wilt averaged 50 points per game and Russell was named MVP.

LeBron James has been in the NBA for 17 years, he’s made All-NBA 16 times. It’s the most anyone has ever accomplished. The guy is one of the all-time greats.

Kareem, Kobe and Tim Duncan made All-League 15 times.

Have had some friends asking me who I like in the Western conference finals, Lakers or Nuggets? My heart is with Denver. Lakers will be tough obviously, but the Nuggets just beat the Clippers and no one, and I mean no one gave Denver a chance. Wait a minute, not true, my guy Ray LeBov of Basketball Intelligence picked Denver over the Clippers. http://basketballintelligence.net/

Former NBA player Mychal Thompson tweeted out: Jokic…Shooting range of Dirk…Lo post footwork of McHale…Passing skills of Walton…Basketball IQ of Kareem…Moves of Gumby…The dudes pretty good.

Tweet From Justin Kubatko: James Harden and Russell Westbrook are just the fourth backcourt duo in NBA history to each earn an All-NBA nod in the same season: 5x – Bob Cousy & Bill Sharman 2x – Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson 1x – Dennis Johnson & Gus Williams 1x – Harden & Westbrook.

Russ caught some criticism during the Rockets series against the Lakers, and yes, he didn’t play his best but let’s not forget how well he played in the regular season. His first year in Houston and playing out of position.

Speaking of “the best ever” type talk – I am going to try and just say, “one of the best ever.”

I’m not sure you can compare someone from the 1970’s to today’s players.

Good story here on the Van Gundy brothers. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/17/sports/basketball/nba-jeff-stan-van-gundy.html

Bulls, Pacers and Pelicans all have coaching openings. Would love to see someone give Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon a shot at the head job.

Now that college football is back, looks like college hoops will start up in mid to late November.

QUOTE OF THE DAY FROM DUNCAN ROBINSON:

“Sometimes you do all the right things and the ball doesn’t go in.”

Happy birthday Junior Bridgeman and Phil Jackson

Always play the right way…

EMAIL: hoops135@hotmail.com

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore

JUICE

The Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Clippers last night in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, 104-89.

The Miami Heat took a 1-0 lead over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals with a 117-114 overtime victory.

Many basketball fans and talk show hosts will rip the LA Clippers and mention what they didn’t do in the series. Not many will give Denver any credit. Every prediction I saw before the series had the Clippers winning. But my guy Ray LeBov picked Denver! Ray runs a great website, Basketball Intelligence. http://basketballintelligence.net/

We can sit here all day and criticize LA, but I am not going that route; all one has to do is look at Twitter. I’m going to praise the Nuggets. Mike Malone has done a tremendous job. And how about this, yesterday was his birthday!

Nikola Jokic is incredible. Jokic recorded a triple double last night against the Clippers, leading Denver to the 104-89 Game 7 victory. Jeff Van Gundy went as far as saying that Jokic is the greatest passing big man of all-time. Jokic had 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists.

Per Basketball-reference.com, the last a player posted 16-22-13 or better in a playoff game was Wilt Chamberlain.

Since 1976-77, the NBA/ABA merger, there’s only been 3 players to grab 20 rebounds in a playoff triple-double. Jokic last night. Kevin Garnett in 2004, and Tim Duncan did it twice in 2003. (Source: ESPN)

Jamal Murray went back to his old scoring ways and dropped 40 points for Denver.

“He’s a tremendous cutter. He knows he’s going to get rewarded when he makes timely cuts when Jokic has the ball.” –Jeff Van Gundy on Gary Harris.

Clippers scored their first field goal of the 4th quarter with 4:50 remaining.

Kawhi Leonard did not attempt a single free-throw in the game. His teammate Paul George was 0-1 from the line.

The Clippers are now 0-8 when they have a chance to clinch a conference finals berth, it’s the longest streak in NBA postseason history.

The Nuggets will take on the Lakers in the Western conference finals beginning Friday night.

It took an overtime session but the Miami Heat jumped out to a 1-0 series lead on the Celtics. Miami shot 16-36 from deep, Boston 15-42.

Goran Dragic led the way for Miami with 29 points.

Next time you hear that guy say, “they don’t play any defense in the NBA,” have them go to Youtube and search for the clip of Bam Adebayo meeting Jayson Tatum at the rim.

Tatum finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists. I had Celtics fans texting me complaining up his last second shot from deep in regulation.

Tyler Herro is 20 years old. In 2017-18 he was playing high school basketball. In 2020 he is playing and making an impact in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Herro recorded his 10th straight playoff game last night with 10 or more points. He was 1 assist away last night from a triple-double.

Game 2 is Thursday night.

Houston Rockets looking for a new head coach. We all know they won a lot of games for Mike D’Antoni’s 4 years, (65-17 & Western Conference finals in 2018) I’m no Red Auerbach or Red Holzman but Houston needs to play with a center. Outrebounded in the playoffs by OKC and Lakers.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT FROM JEFF VAN GUNDY (via PAT RILEY)

“When you put an orange under pressure, what do you get? Orange juice. Because what’s inside of you comes out under pressure.”

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT II FROM JEFF VAN GUNDY (via JOSH HEUPEL)

“If you’re juiceless, you’re useless.”

Happy birthday Glenn Braica, head men’s basketball coach at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York.

Always play the right way…

EMAIL: hoops135@hoopscoach

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore

RESET, RECHARGE…

No games last night in the bubble.

Should be two awesome games tonight.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE:

6:30/ESPN Game 1 Eastern Conference Finals. Heat-Celtics.

9:00/ESPN Game 7 Western Conference Semi’s. Nuggets-Clippers.

Obviously the big game is at 9 o’clock, Clippers and Nuggets. LA held a 3-1 series lead but the Nuggets have shown their ability to never die/never quit. The Nuggets are the first team to force two Game 7s after being down 3-1 in a postseason.

When you lose, the critics/haters come out of everywhere. Some of the comments about the Clippers have been awful. Do these people even know anything about the game? Everyone likes to predict a winner but I really don’t know what to expect tonight? The past two games seemed like LA had things under control. But they slipped and allowed Denver to climb back into both games and eventually lose.

“There’s no secret like potion that something happened,” Doc Rivers said on Monday about the Clippers’ two blown leads. “The two things that we didn’t do, clearly defensively, they shot almost 60% in the second half. The one thing that did stand out, they went to the free throw line like on every play.”

Heat and Celtics begin their quest to make it to the finals tonight. Both teams have had some time off to work on resetting their minds and recharging their bodies.

In my eyes, Miami and Boston are even. I don’t know who’s going to win the series. I do hope we have 7 games though. I told a friend a couple of weeks ago that the Celtics are going to the finals. But, I love the way the Heat play. It’s really a toss-up if you ask me.

I do know it’s going to be competitive and a lot of fun. I’m going to sit back and enjoy the series. We have two well-coached teams that play the right way.

I love guys who make the league that went undrafted. Looking at the remaining teams in the bubble, I came up with my All-Undrafted Team: Daniel Theis, Duncan Robinson, JaMychal Green, Alex Caruso, and Kendrick Nunn. Not a bad 5, huh?

I have been charting 3-pointers in the playoffs. There’s been 65 games thus far and teams that make more 3’s than their opponent are 38-21. There’s been 6 games where both teams made the same amount of 3’s.

QUOTE OF THE DAY FROM DOC RIVERS:

“Rah-rah speeches are very overrated. They last about three minutes. There’s no secret speech. That’s for the movies.”

Happy birthday Mike Dunleavy.

Always play the right way…

EMAIL: hoops135@hoopscoach

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore

FINISH

Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” The Denver Nuggets subscribe to that quote. Facing elimination and the idea of checking out of their hotel in the bubble, Denver beat the Los Angeles Clippers yesterday 111-98 to even the Western Conference semi-finals at 3.

Game 7 is Tuesday night, winner will play the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

Nikola Jokic led the way for Denver with 34 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists.

Jokic is averaging 25 points per game, 12 rebounds and 7 assists per game in the series. Kawhi Leonard is 26, 9 and 5.

The Nuggets trailed by 16 at the half and 19 points in the 3rd quarter and with some tough defense and timely buckets, they made a tremendous comeback and eventually pulled away from the Clippers.

The Nuggets outscored the Clippers 62-27 over a 20-minute stretch of the second half.

‘It’s frustrating,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. ”Listen, when you decide to be a coach it’s not going to be roses every day. We clearly have the right formula as far as how we’re playing and then we keep losing it.”

Just like their series with the Utah Jazz, Denver dug themselves a hole going down 3-1 in the series. But Mike Malone’s crew has shown amazing toughness and the ability to never give up.

Jamal Murray added 21 points on 9-13 shooting.

“I’m running out of adjectives, superlatives, whatever you want to call it to speak on our team,” Nuggets coach Malone said. ”That is a tough, resilient group of you-know-whats. I love our team. I love our team. I love our toughness.”

The Clippers are 64-184 from distance. Denver’s 68-189.

Denver has 135 assists in the series, LA 127.

Doc Rivers said Jokic might be the best passing big man he’s ever seen. Mark Jackson went old school, “I gotta give props to Bill Walton.” My guy Steve Ernst says Sabonis, the dad.

Patrick Beverely fouled out of yesterday’s game with 10 minutes to play in the game. In the last 3 games Beverly has scored a total of 14 points. He’s also committed 14 fouls.

The Clippers have never been to the conference finals. They’ve been in the league for 50 years.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT FROM JEFF VAN GUNDY:

“When you hit a rough spurt, you cannot lose spirit. Your spirit cannot be dictated by if the ball is going in or not. You have to have guys that compete at an incredibly high level when it’s not going well for you. That’s mental toughness.’

Happy Birthday Gary Harris. Larry Brown. Jimmy Butler and Jevon Carter.

Always play the right way…

E-MAIL: Hoops135@hoopscoach

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore