The Nuggets Advanced To The Second Round With A Game 6 Road Win Over Portland

Damian Lillard stole the show in the NBA on Tuesday, scoring 55 points and converting 12 three-pointers in a double-overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets. Even with Lillard’s heroics, the Blazers faced elimination in Game 6 on Thursday, with no margin for error against a talented opponent. While Portland led for large portions of another memorable contest, it was the Nuggets that made the second half charge, and Denver put things away in crunch time to advance to the second round with a 126-115 victory.

The early moments of the game belonged to Michael Porter Jr., who put on a shooting display for Denver. The talented forward made his first six shots, including five three-pointers, and scored 22 points in the opening period.

Denver’s offense was tremendous as a result of Porter’s effectiveness, but the Blazers kept pace. Portland scored 19 points on their first 11 possessions to withstand the barrage, and Lillard was stellar in his own right. Lillard scored 12 first-quarter points, and the Blazers led by four points after 12 minutes, weathering the early storm.

The second quarter continued to be charged by offense on both sides, though the two teams battled turnover issues. Portland built as much as a 10-point lead but, after Denver cut into the margin, Lillard buried a three-pointer on the final possession to give the Blazers a seven-point halftime edge.

The late three-pointer from Lillard set a new NBA Playoff record for the most triples in a single series, and Lillard scored 19 points and dished out seven assists prior to halftime. As a team, Portland shot 59.5 percent from the floor with 11 three-pointers, and the Nuggets were searching for answers despite a highly efficient offensive half.

The two offenses continued to find success in the third quarter, to the surprise of no one. Portland drew first blood, scoring 27 points in the first eight minutes and building as much as a 14-point lead. On cue, Denver answered, using a 9-0 run to slash the margin and finally generating some defensive stops down the stretch of the third quarter. Nuggets guard Monte Morris then converted a buzzer-beating three-pointer to bring Denver back within a 101-98 margin with 12 minutes left.

While Denver’s recovery was unquestionably a team effort, Jokic was the No. 1 reason for the charge. The presumptive MVP put the offense on his back, scoring 20 points in the quarter and acting as the team’s fulcrum in myriad ways.

The Nuggets kept charging when the fourth quarter opened, scoring the first four points of the period. When Morris scored at the 10:10 mark, Denver capped an 18-4 run across quarters, erasing a 13-point deficit in fewer than five minutes. Immediately, Portland answered and, with the starters coming back on the floor for both teams, the stage was set for more fireworks in what was already a thoroughly watchable series.

At a suboptimal time, the Blazers went cold, scoring only two points in more than five minutes. As that was taking place, the Nuggets continued to score with efficiency, including more stellar play from Jokic.

Portland’s dry spell, combined with Denver’s production, led to a 17-2 overall run for the Nuggets. The final result of the spurt was an 11-point edge for Denver with little more than three minutes remaining on the clock.

As he has done consistently, Lillard attempted to help the Blazers out of the hole. He scored the next five points over a 38-second span, cutting the deficit to just six with 2:29 to go. It wasn’t enough, though, as the Nuggets quickly scored to stop the mini-spurt and the Blazers endured back-to-back empty possessions on the offensive end. From there, Denver’s lead never dipped below six points and, when Aaron Gordon converted something of a dagger with a three-pointer in the final minute, the result was secure.

Jokic was masterful for the Nuggets, particularly in the second half. He finished the night with 36 points, eight rebounds and six assists, with all but nine of his points after the halftime break. Morris was also stellar yet again for Denver, producing 22 points and nine assists in a reserve role, and Porter Jr. added 26 points for the Nuggets.

On Portland’s side, Lillard led with 28 points and 13 assists, but he did not find quite enough support on this night. In the grand scheme, the Blazers scored more than enough to win, but a 14-point fourth quarter proved costly for the home team in Portland.

The Blazers will now begin what could be a highly interesting offseason, as many feel they will look to make a fairly significant overhaul after coming up short once again. At the same time, the Nuggets move on to the second round to face the winner of the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns.