Nikola Jokic And Austin Rivers Lifted The Nuggets To A Game 3 Win In Portland To Go Up 2-1

The Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers have two stars they can effectively pencil in for monster individual performances each night, and as such their first round series becomes about which of the “others” can step up in the big moments to give them support. In Game 3, Nikola Jokic and Damian Lillard had their customary huge nights, with Jokic piling up 36 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists while Lillard led all scorers with 37 points with five dimes to boot.

In the end, the Nuggets were able to get more from their supporting cast, including a somewhat surprising figure stepping forward late as Austin Rivers buried big shot after big shot down the stretch in a 120-115 Nuggets win. Rivers had 21 points on the night off the strength of a 5-of-10 shooting night from three-point land, most of which came in the fourth quarter to help Denver pull away from Portland after the Blazers had fought their way back to take a brief lead.

On the other side, it was a disappointing finish for Portland who started out on fire early in the first quarter but couldn’t consistently find the bottom of the net from three. They trailed for much of the night, but pulled even in the fourth quarter on the backs of an 8-0 run from Carmelo Anthony, who had 17 points on the evening off the bench.

Despite some flurries, as a team, they shot just 14-of-45 from distance, including a 5-for-16 night from Dame, but he did hit enough to keep things interesting late.

After a CJ McCollum three pulled Portland within three, Monte Morris missed a pair of free throws with under four seconds to play that could’ve given the Blazers a shot to tie, but Jokic had other ideas, bullying his way to the rebound for the game-sealing tip-in.

It was a game that had to feel a bit like theft for Denver, who didn’t get the usual contribution from Michael Porter Jr., as he had just 15 points which is well below where he has been post-Jamal Murray injury. But with Rivers’ hot shooting night and a 20-for-38 effort as a team from distance, they made up for any other deficiencies with the three ball, out-gunning the Blazers to retake homecourt advantage and a 2-1 series lead going into Game 4 on Saturday afternoon.