Sports writing, Jun 21 (EFE) .- Duel of giants in Denver between Damian Lillard, who gave a historic triples recital, and Nikola Jokic, whose Nuggets needed two overtime to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers by 147-140 after wasting one 22-point lead in the second quarter.
With Tuesday night’s win, the Nuggets lead 3-2 in the series against the Blazers.
Lillard gave quite a recital that registered him in the history books of the NBA by scoring 55 points and 10 assists, a record in a playoff game. Lillard, who had 12 3-pointers of 17 attempts, also had 6 rebounds, 1 steal and 3 blocks.
The Portland point guard scored 22 of his team’s last 23 points: an impressive triple with which he forced the first overtime, 13 of the Portland’s 14 points in the first overtime and his team’s 5 points in the second and last extension.
Up front, Jokic, the season’s top MVP nominee, responded almost blow-for-blow to Lillard. The Serbian center finished the game with 38 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks. And when Jokic couldn’t replicate Lillard, the Nuggets had de Monte Morris, 28 points, and Michael Porter Jr., 26 points.
Lillard’s performance left the more than 10,000 spectators at Denver’s Ball Arena speechless on more than one occasion. After the game, Nuggets coach Michael Malone paid tribute to Lillard’s game by noting that the Portland guard was “superhuman.”
Perhaps the best detail that reflects Lillard’s mindset was in the closing moments of regular time. With 10 seconds to go and with a 121-118 against on the scoreboard, the point guard raised the ball and after passing the center of the court, asked his teammates to leave him alone before his defender, Porter Jr.
With 4 seconds remaining until the final whistle, Lillard faked the tackle from the center and dragged Porter. With the defender off balance, Lillard stepped back enough to get behind the three-line and hit a 3-pointer that tied the game 121-121, forcing the extension.
Lillard was able to repeat the same play at the end of the first overtime, with another step back with 6.6 seconds remaining that converted another triple to tie 135-135 and force the second overtime.
In the second extension, with players like Jokic and Lillard clearly exhausted, the Portland couldn’t hold the tug of the Nuggets bench. The Denver team finally finished the Blazers after a 9-0 run that left the score at 147-140.
In the Nuggets, the bench was essential in the victory by adding a total of 48 points, of which 28 corresponded to Morris, who scored 4 triples of 9 attempts, some of them of great importance for the Nuggets.
In contrast, the Blazers bench only made 22 points. The Blazers also suffered a major setback when Bosnian center Jusuf Nurcik, who in Game 4 provided an effective defense against Jokic, quickly charged with personnel in the third quarter and finally had to leave the court with six personals 4 minutes to go. end of fourth period.
The Nuggets came out on the court especially motivated after a soulless performance in Game 4 of the series. After the opening jump, Denver’s men punished the Blazers with a 13-1 run in the opening minutes.
Denver defended perfectly and all their attacks seemed to end in the basket. When the first 12 minutes ended, the Nuggets were 7 points up, 38-25.
OVERCOME IN THE SECOND QUARTER
In the second quarter, with the bench on the court, things even improved. The Nuggets were 22 points ahead, 54-32, with 8 minutes remaining. But with the rotation and the entry of the starters (Jokic, Campazzo and Austin Rivers), the game suddenly went awry for Denver.
The Blazers, led to perfection by Lillard, nailed the Nuggets a run of 9-21, 59-53, and when the second quarter ended the difference had been reduced to 3 points, 65-62.
The Blazers smelled blood and squeezed in the third quarter. Portland’s team scored 32 points in that period, to the Nuggets’ 27, which left the Blazers ahead, 92-94, at the start of the fourth quarter.
This time the Nuggets knew how to keep their composure and after Nurcik left the court for his sixth staff, Jokic seized the opportunity. With 52 seconds remaining in the quarter, the Nuggets were 4 points up, 119-115.
But Lillard’s triplet recital began that allowed the Blazers to tie in key moments with unlikely triples and extend the game with two overtime periods. Until the bellows ran out for Lillard.
(c) EFE Agency