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NBA Playoffs: Pacers and Nuggets win and tie their semifinal series against Knicks and Wolves

The current champions won again away from home, driven by Serbian Nikola Jokic.

12 de mayo de 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, EE.UU.; El pívot de los Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic (15) trabaja alrededor del alero de los Minnesota Timberwolves Karl-Anthony Towns (32) en el tercer cuarto del cuarto partido de la segunda ronda de los playoffs de la NBA 2024 en el Target Center.

(Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA / Cordon Press)

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(AFP/VOZ MEDIA) The defending NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets cameback to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday to even their series of Western Conference semifinals 2-2, as did the Indiana Pacers, who defeated the New York Knicks to even their series in the East.

The Nuggets, boosted by the 35 points of the NBA's Most Valuable Player, Serbian Nikola Jokic, the 27 points of Aaron Gordon with 11 of 12 ruthlessly efficient shots and the 19 points of Jamal Murray, they achieved a second consecutive victory in Minneapolis and regained home-court advantage after losing the first two games of the series in Denver.

Jokic, to the rescue

"Now it's best of three," Jokic said, adding that the Timberwolves' surprising victories in the first two games in Denver had only strengthened the defending champions.

"We took a hit and we recovered and hopefully we can defend the court now," Jokic said, looking forward to Game 5 of that semifinal on Tuesday, in Denver.

The Nuggets held off Anthony Edwards' 44 points, but the Timberwolves star simply didn't have enough support. Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 13 points, but went 0 for 7 in the first quarter, as the Nuggets went on a 14-2 run to take a five-point lead.

Edwards' dunk with less than a minute left in the first half cut what had been a 16-point deficit to seven. Jokic then stole the ball and fed Michael Porter Jr. for a dunk and Murray also made a steal, turned and launched a shot at the buzzer from beyond the half-court line to make a wonderful three-pointer and leave the Nuggets with a 64-49 lead at halftime.

Murray scored 12 points in the third quarter to keep the Nuggets ahead while early foul trouble sent Jokic to the bench. The Serbian scored 16 points again in the quarter as the Nuggets headed to victory.

The Pacers, to the rhythm of Haliburton

Tyrese Haliburton scored 20 points and led the Indiana Pacers to a 121-89 victory over the New York Knicks to tie this Eastern Conference semifinal series also 2-2.

After the first three games of this best-of-seven series were decided in the final minutes, Haliburton and the Pacers finally managed to deploy their high-voltage offense and defeat the Big Apple team.

The Pacers connected on 56.8% of their shots, scored 14 three-pointers and dominated the paint. TJ McConnell scored 15 points off the bench for Indiana, which had six players score more than a dozen points.

After a dunk by the Knicks center, Isaiah Hartenstein, to open the game, the first quarter was all about the Pacers, who had a 23-point advantage and finished twenty points ahead (34 to 14), marking what would be the process in the Gainbridge Fieldhouse, in Indianapolis.

Knicks talisman Jalen Brunson went 0 for 5 in the first quarter and the Pacers bench outscored the Knicks reserves 17-0 in the period.

The dominance continued in the second quarter, when Haliburton sent the crowd wild with a 3-pointer over Donte DiVincenzo that put the Pacers up by 30 with 5.9 seconds left in the first half.

The Pacers led by 43 points to later end up winning by a difference of 32.

Despite the lopsided victory, Haliburton said the Pacers must remain focused on the task at hand:

We did our job, They did their job and won two at home, we did our job and won two at home. There is a lot at stake in game five.

The Knicks were again without OG Anunoby, who injured a hamstring in Game 2 to join the also absent Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Bojan Bogdanovic.

The tension was getting to Brunson, who is playing with a right foot injury. Brunson went 6 of 17 to score 18 points with three rebounds and five assists before leaving with two and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

With the game over and Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, both coaches pulled their starters for the fourth quarter.

"Now we have to go there and get a win at the Garden," Haliburton said. "We wait for their reaction in the fifth game, but we are capable of striking the blow."