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Nuggets outgun T'Wolves, Pacers thrash Knicks to level NBA playoff series

<a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nba/teams/indiana/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Indiana;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Indiana</a>'s <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/6404/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Tyrese Haliburton;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Tyrese Haliburton</a> brings the ball up court in the <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nba/teams/indiana/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Pacers;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Pacers</a>' blow-out victory over the <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nba/teams/new-york/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:New York Knicks;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">New York Knicks</a> in game four of their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series (Michael Hickey)

The defending champion Denver Nuggets outgunned the Minnesota Timberwolves 115-107 to level their NBA playoff series on Sunday as the Indiana Pacers pulled even with the New York Knicks.

The Nuggets, fueled by 35 points from NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon's 27 points on ruthlessly efficient 11-of-12 shooting and 19 points from Jamal Murray, claimed a second straight win in Minneapolis to knot their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series at two games apiece.

The Pacers dismantled the Knicks 121-89 in Indianapolis to level their Eastern Conference semi-final at 2-2.

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

"We took a hit and we bounced back and hopefully we can defend the home court now," said Jokic, looking forward to game five in Denver on Tuesday.

The Nuggets withstood a 44-point performance from Anthony Edwards, but the Timberwolves star just didn't have enough scoring support despite an energetic effort from the hosts.

Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 13 points but was 0-for-7 in the first quarter, when the Nuggets closed the period on a 14-2 run to seize 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 came up with a steal and fed Michael Porter Jr. for a dunk and Murray grabbed a steal, turned and unleashed a buzzer-beating shot from beyond the halfcourt line that swished through and sent the Nuggets into the break with a 64-49 lead.

Murray scored 12 points in the third quarter to keep the Nuggets in control as early foul trouble sent Jokic to the bench.

Jokic returned to score 16 in the fourth and the Nuggets kept the Timberwolves at bay.

In Indianapolis, the Pacers finally got their high-octane offense firing. After the first two games of the series came down to the final minutes the Pacers fashioned a blow-out as a raft of injuries at last caught up with the weary Knicks.

Tyrese Haliburton scored 20 points and the Pacers connected on 56.8% of their shots, drilling 14 three-pointers and dominating in the paint.

T.J. McConnell scored 15 points off the bench for Indiana, who had six players score in double figures.

After a dunk by Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein to open the game, the first quarter was all Pacers, Indiana pushing their lead to as many as 23 points.

Knicks talisman Jalen Brunson was 0-for-5 in the opening quarter and the Pacers bench out-scored the Knicks reserves 17-0 in the period.

The domination continued in the second quarter, Haliburton sending the crowd into a frenzy with a three-pointer over Donte DiVincenzo that put the Pacers up by 30 with 5.9 seconds left in the first half.

They would lead by as many as 43 before it was over, but despite the rapturous ovation from fans at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Haliburton said the Pacers must remain focused on the task ahead.

"We did our job," Haliburton said. "They did their job and won two at home, we did our job and won two at home.

"We understand the magnitude of game five and we'll be prepared for that one."

The Knicks were again without OG Anunoby, who injured a hamstring in game two to join key contributors Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Bojan Bogdanovic on the sidelines.

The strain was telling on Brunson, who is playing through a right foot injury. He connected on six of 17 attempts to score 18 points with three rebounds and five assists before checking out with two and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

With the contest out of hand and game five coming up at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, both coaches pulled their starters for the fourth quarter.

New York coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn't point to injuries to explain the Knicks struggles -- including a seven-for-37 performance from three-point range.

"Everyone's got something -- it's the playoffs," Thibodeau said. "Whether you lose by one or lose by 30, it's a loss. You've got to respond."

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