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Denver Nuggets stand their ground to stun the Los Angeles Clippers 111-105 in Game 5

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Marcus Morris of the Clippers and Paul Millsap of the Nuggets scuffled during the first half on Friday.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Marcus Morris of the Clippers and Paul Millsap of the Nuggets scuffled during the first half on Friday.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. >> Desperate times bring out the best in the Denver Nuggets.

So does a 35-year-old veteran willing to scuffle and stand his ground.

Paul Millsap ignited Denver with a fracas before scoring 14 of his 17 points in the third quarter, Michael Porter Jr. made a late 3-pointer and the Nuggets overcame a 15-point, second-half deficit to stun the Los Angeles Clippers 111-105 on Friday night in Game 5.

Don’t evict the Nuggets out of the bubble just yet. They’ve pulled to 3-2 in their best-of-seven series.

“Everybody continues to count us out,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That’s the way we like it.”

This marked Denver’s fourth elimination-game win of this postseason, the team’s most since capturing six win-or-go-home games during the 1994 playoff run. The Nuggets came back from a 3-1 deficit to capture their first-round series against Utah.

Denver’s resiliency comes as no surprise to the Clippers.

“They played like the season was on the line. They had that approach,” Clippers standout Paul George said. “They were out there flying around and played hard. They made timely baskets they needed.”

One of the catalysts was Millsap. Denver — down 16 in the first half — trailed 61-46 with 9:42 remaining in the third before rallying behind his play. He made four of five shots and five of six free throws in the quarter.

Really, though, it was a big play he turned in before halftime that sparked the Nuggets. Millsap and Marcus Morris jawed at each other face-to-face late and had to be separated. Morris was given a technical foul and the Nuggets got some swagger.

“He stood up. His response to that situation really helped our team to respond,” Malone said. “That gave us a group toughness. Paul played really well for us tonight. That play was really impactful.”

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