DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic scored 37 points and fed Will Barton for a 3-pointer from the left corner with 8.3 seconds left, helping the Denver Nuggets avoid a series sweep with a 126-121 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
Monte Morris’ 7-footer broke a 121-all tie with 33.5 seconds left after the Nuggets blew a 17-point lead. Austin Rivers then stole Otto Porter Jr.’s pass.
Morris finished with 24 points. He hit five 3-pointers in the third quarter, the most in a quarter by any player in these NBA playoffs.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 33 points. Klay Thompson scored 22 of his 32 points after picking up his fourth foul in the final second of the first half. Jordan Poole had 11 after averaging 27.8 in the first three games of the series.
The series shifts back to San Francisco for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
The Nuggets took a 98-89 lead into the fourth quarter, but fell behind 121-119 on Curry’s jumper with just over a minute left.
Denver rookie Bones Hyland hit three consecutive 3-pointers, the last from 33 feet that capped a 14-2 run to open the second quarter with Jokic catching his breath on the bench after assisting on 20 of Denver’s first 23 points.
That gave the Nuggets a 40-23 lead and command for the first time in the series that began with two blowouts on the road before a competitive Game 3 at Ball Arena that gave them hope of avoiding a second straight sweep in the playoffs.
Last year, they were shut out by Phoenix in the second round.
The Nuggets took a 63-52 halftime lead after a move by Warriors coach Steve Kerr backfired with less than a second left in the second quarter.
Kerr sent Thompson back into the game with six-tenths of a second remaining and Thompson executed the play to perfection, coming off the screen for the layup — only, he pushed Rivers on his way to the rim, so the basket was waved off and Thompson was whistled for his fourth foul.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone was confident his team would come out and give it their all to force the series back to San Francisco after the way they played in Game 3 in taking the Warriors into the final minute before succumbing 108-103.
“Really confident,” Malone said before tip-off. “Just knowing our group. I have to remind myself, when you think about our team, the last four years no one has won more games in the West than this team, and there’s a reason for that. So, I would be shocked and disappointed if we didn’t go out there and play our brand of basketball like we did in Game 3.
“I have the utmost confidence in our group that that will be our mindset, that will be our approach, and we will go out there and leave everything we have on that floor.”
EARLY TO PRIZE
Warriors coach Steve Kerr wasn’t concerned about the early start.
“No. Both teams obviously have to deal with that. The main thing is to keep our edge. Being up 3-0, there can be a tendency to let your guard down a little bit. You get comfortable and you can’t get comfortable,” Kerr said before tip-off. “You have to be loose but disciplined. You have to stay locked in with the game plan. You can’t just come out here thinking, ‘We’ve got this.′ That’s a ticket to a poor performance. We’ve just got to bring an edge.”
Warriors: Curry was cold, sinking just 2 of 8 shots in the first quarter, when he missed his first four 3-pointers. … Golden State was just 8 of 26 in the opening quarter.
Nuggets: Draymond Green picked up his first foul 40 seconds into the game when he elbowed Jokic in the face. In the ensuing tussle, Gordon and Thompson were assessed a double technical. … Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) were inactive again.