The Denver Nuggets started out their game with the Portland Trail Blazers by trading misses prior to a 3-point make by Michael Porter Jr. The two offensive-minded teams were in a bit of a funk with just three points through the first two minutes of the game prior to a 3-point make by Gary Trent Jr. After a few misses, Will Barton got his first points of the night with a putback-layup under the basket.
Denver forced a lousy shot out of the Blazers before trading turnovers. Jamal Murray forced up a mid-range jumper late in the shot clock before Damian Lillard threw down a big dunk which was followed by a triple from Nikola Jokic and Trent. Portland took the ball in transition and got an easy dunk for Enes Kanter which forced a timeout from Michael Malone.
Jokic knotted the game up out of the break with a shot from mid-range. After forcing a miss on a layup by Lillard, Jokic found Porter for an open 3-pointer in the corner to take a 13-10 lead. Porter forced up a bad shot, but the Blazers couldn’t do anything with it prior to a 3-pointer by Murray. Portland got a layup to fall, but Denver was leading by four prior to a big dunk from Derrick Jones Jr.
After a couple of 3-point misses and offensive rebounds, Jokic rewarded Porter under the basket for the reverse layup. After a layup was made by Lillard, Barton got to the rim for a big slam that led to a Portland timeout with just under 4:00 remaining in the quarter. The Blazers missed a shot out of the timeout prior to an easy layup from Jokic. The two sides traded bad misses before Kanter got an easy putback layup to go.
THRILL TIME pic.twitter.com/UeUPDsc59Q— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 24, 2021
After forcing a strip on Lillard, Barton snagged an offensive rebound and put away the layup through some contact before completing the 3-point play at the line. Portland scored another easy two before Jokic drew a foul on Kanter against a Blazers’ team that had frontcourt depth issues entering the game. Jokic knocked down both free throws before Carmelo Anthony canned a 3-point shot against his former team.
Jokic was cooking early with an easy bucket against Kanter in the paint. Denver forced another Lillard turnover that turned into a fastbreak layup for Porter. Isaiah Hartenstein blocked Lillard, and he was looking frustrated early on before Facundo Campazzo cashed a 3-point shot for a 34-point first quarter. Portland converted a late bucket, and Denver was leading 34-25 at the end of the first.
Denver forced a steal on the first possession, but the two sides proceeded to trade turnovers before Porter was fouled shooting a 3-point shot. Porter knocked down 2-of-3 from the line. After trading misses, Anthony backed Porter all the way down to the rim before completing a layup through a foul where he got the 3-point play at the line. A steal by Facu led to a transition opportunity, an easy make for Zeke Nnaji and a Blazers’ timeout to stop the run.
Portland missed a triple out of the timeout, and Murray followed it up by getting to the rim where he was fouled by Robert Covington. He made both free throws, and Melo promptly answered with two free throws of his own to keep it a 10-point game. Murray was fouled, but Denver failed to score with the additional possession. Anthony made them pay with a mid-range jumper before Hartenstein made a pair of shots from the foul line.
Anthony was taking the near-anniversary of his trade serious with another mid-range jumper before Nnaji knocked down a 3-point shot to push the lead back to double-digits. Portland converted a 3-point attempt which was followed up with a miss by Jokic before Melo hit another 20-foot shot. Nikola left a 3-point shot short, and another made shot by Anthony made it a four-point game with 5:15 on the clock and forced Malone to call another timeout.
.@facucampazzo is too smoooooooth pic.twitter.com/EwKarO675n— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 24, 2021
Coming out of the timeout, Jokic interrupted the run with a 16-footer, but Portland got that right back with a jumper from Trent prior to Jokic air-balling a 3-pointer. Kanter putback a miss to bring them within two before Jokic completed a putback of his own. A 3-point make by Jones brought Portland within 1. A miss by the Nuggets led to an easy make, and the Blazers were now leading by 1 after trailing for the entire game. Jokic knocked down a pair of free throws to regain the lead.
Jokic followed his own miss for a putback layup after a miss by Carmelo, but Trent tied the game up with a 3-point make before Jokic put away a mid-range fadeaway. After not getting a foul call on the jumper, Jokic let the ref have it in transition, and he was called for a technical foul. Lillard would knock down the ensuing free throw. Following the inbounds pass, Murray was called for a foul on a 3-point attempt by Trent that would be reviewed after it looked pretty clearly like he only got the ball. Upon completion of the challenge, it was ruled a clean block, and there would be a jump ball with 1:17 on the clock.
Portland won the tip, but Lillard missed an open jumper attempt. Porter missed a bad 3-point attempt from the corner, and Anthony was left wide open for one of his own on the ensuing possession. Jokic put down a layup to knot it up at 57. After Portland failed to score on the final possession of the half, the game was all tied up heading into the break.
Portland started the second half with a 3-point make from Trent before Murray missed one of his own. Porter got a block on Covington, but no points came of it after misses by Murray and Jokic. The two sides were repeatedly trading misses before Monte Morris put down a triple from the left wing. Following a miss by Kanter, Jokic put away a 10-foot shot before Trent hit a shot along the baseline over the outstretched hand of Barton.
A missed layup by Barton turned into a transition dunk for Jones before Barton missed a shot from outside, and Kanter tipped in a layup to take a four-point lead. Malone called a timeout to stop the run and draw up a play to get some momentum going. Denver failed to convert before Portland scored, and Jokic stopped the 8-0 run with a jumper of his own. Following a nifty play by Morris, Jokic put down a triple that gave him 30 points on the night.
Portland scored again, but Denver tied it up at 70 before a Blazers make put them ahead by 2. Lillard got a triple to go that stretched the lead to five. Jokic was forced into a miracle 3-pointer late in the shot clock that missed, and Lillard matched him with a miss of his own. Jokic sprung a leak from the back of his arm, but there was somehow no foul. A foul by Portland on offense was followed up with a foul on defense. After that pair of fouls, Jokic was called for one going for a rebound to give the ball back to Portland.
Now that's how you end a quarter! pic.twitter.com/qnnqk8ZcIl— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 24, 2021
The two sides traded misses prior to a timeout by the Nuggets and a foul by Lillard before a triple by Jokic eventually got the scoring going. Lillard matched him with a triple of his own from 28 feet. A miss by Murray continued his cold streak, and he was bailed out by another airball from Lillard. Jokic put in another shot to give himself 35 on the night. Nnaji cashed a triple from the corner to tie the game at 78, and it was set up for a great fourth-quarter battle.
Denver started the fourth with a make by Hartenstein before forcing a miss with great rotations. Facu forced up a miss, and Anfernee Simons put down a 3-point shot on the other end. Denver had multiple chances to score and was unable to do so. The two sides traded misses before Rodney Hood put away a long two-point shot and forced a Denver timeout. Out of the timeout, Murray hit a 3-point shot to tie the game at 83, but Anthony scored his first points since the first half over Nnaji with the shot-clock expiring.
Porter was forced to chuck up a shot late in the clock, and they were bailed out with a dunk by Nnaji after Covington attempted to save it. A long jumper from Murray gave them a two-point lead, and the Blazers called a timeout to stop the run. Out of the timeout, Lillard threw down a dunk to tie the game, but Murray hit another 3-point shot before Lillard got one to roll all around the rim and fall in.
Murray went into his bag, and knocked down a stepback triple of his own to really get the battle with Lillard going. Lillard drew a foul on Nnaji and knocked down both free throws. Murray and Anthony traded misses prior to a make by Jokic. Anthony missed another long-range jumper, and Murray got fancy with a finger-roll layup to stretch the lead to five with 3:55 remaining.
After a miss by Lillard, Murray got a shot to fall in the paint. Following a miss by Kanter, Jokic was fouled on a rebounding attempt which led to a timeout on the floor with 3:01 remaining. The two sides traded misses out of the timeout before Murray was blocked by Jones. Morris stole a bad pass which led to a floater by Barton to give Denver nine-point lead with 2:00 remaining. Jones got a quick finish to bring them within seven.
Jokic got those two points right back with a shot from the mid-range before Kanter was fouled at the rim by Porter with 1:14 remaining. Kanter knocked down both at the line. Jokic was blocked at the rim by Jones before Lillard went to the cup for an easy layup to bring them within five with just under :50 remaining. Jokic got a step on his defender for a huge dunk with 31 seconds on the clock.
Portland got a quick bucket, but Denver was able to get the ball inbounds to Morris who was fouled and sent to the line. He knocked down both. Covington missed a 3-point shot before Lillard hit one from the corner. Murray was fouled once the ball was inbounded, and he made both shots at the line with 9.3 on the clock when Portland called a timeout. A triple my Melo brought them within three, but Murray was fouled again where he hit both freebies to put them up by five for a final score of 111-106.
Points: Nikola Jokic - 41
Assists: Jamal Murray - 8
Rebounds: Michael Porter Jr. - 10
Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic - 41 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 17-of-32 field goal, 3-of-6 3-point, 4-of-4 free throw