The Rundown: Nuggets put clamps on Pelicans, Suns clinch playoff berth

Published April 29, 2021, 3:00 PMJon Carlos Rodriguez

Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets used defense to shoot down Zion Williamson's Pelicans, while the Suns secured a playoff spot for the first time in 11 years.


Magic 109, Cavaliers 104
Sixers 127, Hawks 83
Wizards 116, Lakers 107
Celtics 120, Hornets 111
Knicks 113, Bulls 94
Heat 116, Spurs 111
Trail Blazers 130, Grizzlies 109
Nuggets 114, Pelicans 112
Suns 109, Clippers 101
Jazz 154, Kings 105

What went down

The Denver Nuggets turned up the defense on the New Orleans Pelicans, that’s what went down. 

The Nuggets put the clamps on Zion Williamson, the best way they could. Zion still managed to muscle his way to 21 points, but Aaron Gordon and Paul Millsap tag-teamed him, holding him to an 8-of-17 shooting night.

The hotly contested matchup came down to the last possession, and still, it was the Denver defense that won the game for them. 

Brandon Ingram (27 points) broke through the Nuggets’ D with seven seconds left, drew two defenders then found a cutting Zion for what could have been a game-tying slam. But Nikola Jokic recovered and swatted away the attempt. Game over.

The Nuggets tied a season-high with 14 steals and forced the Pelicans to turn the ball over 21 times. Austin Rivers led Denver with four steals against his former team, but was scoreless on the other end.

Good thing Facundo Campazzo showed up with a career game, scoring a career-high 19 points and adding 10 assists. 

As for Denver’s MVP candidate, he delivered with 32 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, three steals, and three blocks, including the game-winning one.

Big-time baller

Get something, anything, put it into Chris Paul’s hands, and watch him turn it into something special. Today it was the Phoenix Suns’ playoff hopes, which he managed to fulfill.

Paul scored 25 of his 28 points in the second half to lead the Suns past the Los Angeles Clippers, helping his team clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2010.

CP3, just like what he did to the New York Knicks’ historic nine-game winning streak, wouldn’t allow the Suns’ active playoff drought, which was the league’s second longest, to continue on his watch.

What he said

"I love the people I work with." — Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra after leading his team to yet another win, No. 600 of his career with the franchise.

Did you see that?

Rui Hachimura had Anthony Davis alone on a fast break and he had two options: 1) close his eyes and pray for a miracle, or 2) stare at the problem at hand and dunk on it.

He chose the latter. Man, did he choose the latter.