Sports writing, Jun 3 (EFE) .- Serbian center Nikola Jokic pressed the accelerator when the Nuggets needed him most and with 36 points drove the Denver team victory over the Portland Trail Blazers by 115-126 leaving a 4-2 definitive in the series and eliminates the whole of Damian Lillard of the playoffs.
This time, Lillard couldn’t save the Blazers on triples as he did in Game 5 of the series when he scored 55 points, 36 of which came from 12 triples, both record numbers in playoff history.
The Blazers point guard made 28 points tonight but only scored 3 of the 11 triples he tried. Lillard also had 13 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
Insufficient to stop some Nuggets led by Jokic who was seconded by Michael Porter Jr., with 26 points of which he scored 22 in the first quarter, and Monte Morris, a substitute who has proven vital for the Denver team and who tonight he added 22 points and 9 assists.
Argentine Nuggets point guard Facundo Campazzo, who has started five of the six series games against the Blazers, scored 10 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block over Norman Powell, the Los Angeles forward. Blazers who became his nemesis during the series.
The Nuggets trailed the Blazers for much of the game, trailing 14 points with 4 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
JOKIC TO THE RESCUE
But when everything indicated that the Blazzers would force a seventh game, Jokic made an appearance. The Serbian center had only scored 9 points in the first half of the game. But after the break, the Serbian scored 20 points in the third quarter and another 7 in the final 12 minutes.
Jokic took advantage of the fact that his defender, Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic, had four personals in the third quarter, forcing Blazers coach Terry Stotts to sit him down.
The game started for the local team. Lillard moved the ball with ease on offense and found the many holes in Denver’s defense. And on defense, the Blazers had Jokic under control.
Lillard scored 2 of the 3 triples he tried, added 12 points in the fourth and aimed to repeat his extraordinary performance from the previous game.
The only thing that allowed the Nuggets to withstand the pull in that first quarter was the graceful state of Porter Jr. who scored 6 of the 7 triples he tried and 2 of the 3 shots of two. The 22-year-old forward, who is playing his third season in the NBA, was responsible for 22 of his team’s 29 points in the opening quarter that finished 33-29 for the Blazers.
In the second room, Jokic finally appeared. The center, who had not scored any points in the first 12 minutes, added his first basket 3 minutes after the start of the second quarter. But Porter Jr.’s well dried up (he missed the 2 triples he tried and only made 4 points) and the Blazers managed to extend their distance on the scoreboard.
When the break came, the Blazers were 7 points ahead, 68-61, to the delirium of the 10,022 spectators at the Moda Center in Portland.
At the restart, it seemed that the third quarter would serve to sentence the game in favor of the Blazers. Power forward Robert Covington hit a series of 3 3-pointers of 3 attempts, two of them in a row. Guard CJ McCollum contributed another triple and two baskets of two.
In the Nuggets only Jokic contributed points consistently and with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Blazers were 14 points ahead, 93-79.
But suddenly, the Blazers lost their bellows. After a timeout by Portland with 93-82 on the scoreboard, the Nuggets punished the Blazers with a 0-9 run that with one minute left in the quarter left the light at 97-93. Morris’s 3-pointer on the final whistle cut the gap even further, 101-98.
The Nuggets’ recovery left Portland unanswered. Denver took the opportunity to tighten on defense and close the gaps it had left in the first half. Jokic’s triple to 6.28 by the end of the game put the Denver ahead, 106-108.
The Blazers tried but Lillard could not star in another miracle. The point guard missed the 3 triples he tried. On the other side of the court, neither Morris nor Jokic gave up. With 1.37 remaining, the Nuggets were already 8 points ahead, 113-121.
The Blazers saw all their hopes dashed with Lillard’s final 3-point attempt with only 48 seconds left and the scoreboard at 115-125. Stotts decided to seat Lillard and let the substitutes finish the game.
(c) EFE Agency