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Recap: Trail Blazers steal Game 1 from Nuggets behind Damian Lillard’s big night

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Not the way we all wanted it to go, but still a ton of series remaining.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers certainly did not lack in the fireworks department Saturday night at Ball Arena. Defense was optional in a game the Nuggets just could not keep up in. Because of that, Portland was able to secure a 130-120 victory over the Nuggets in Game 1 and now lead the series 1-0.

It was an exciting first half to say the least as the Nuggets held a 61-58 lead going into halftime. This also came after as first quarter in which Portland outscored the Nuggets 35-30 led by 12 points from Carmelo Anthony. Behind three makes from beyond the arc, Anthony was scorching and destroying the Nuggets bench unit.

That changed to start the second quarter as the Nuggets second unit won the non-Jokic minutes 12-7 to get Denver back to even with the Trail Blazers. Jokic finished the half with 22 points and seven rebounds on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, 2-of-4 from three.

It wasn't just Jokic who had a big first half though as Michael Porter Jr. also scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field to go along with three rebounds. One guy who also made his presence felt in the first half was Aaron Gordon, who shot just 3-of-11 from the field for six points, but hauled in eight rebounds to help the Nuggets lead the rebounding battle.

The tide started to turn in the third quarter as even though the Nuggets opened the period on a 10-4 run, they just weren't able to sustain it. Damian Lillard hit a big three to close the quarter as the Trail Blazers outscored Denver 38-25 in the frame.

Denver went into the fourth quarter down 96-86 and were in desperate need of a spark. Porter provided that spark making some unreal lay ups scoring 10 of the Nuggets first 12 points in the fourth quarter. At the 8:14 mark of the fourth quarter, the Nuggets cut the Portland lead to 4-points all with Jokic off the floor.

From that point on — even with Jokic back in the game — the Trail Blazers caught fire again. Liillard drilled an extremely tough three-pointer with 4:35 left in the game to put Portland up 10 points. It was the proverbial nail in the coffin as the Nuggets just weren't able to catch up from that point on.

Even in a losing effort, Jokic had a big night with 34 points on 14-of-27 shooting from the field to go along with 15 rebounds and just one assist. Porter also had a solid night scoring 25 points on 12-of-21 shooting from the field while also hauling in nine rebounds. It was a struggle all night from three-point range for Porter though as he shot just 1-of-10 from beyond the arc. Gordon (16) and Monte Morris (10) also finished in double-figures.

For the Trail Blazers, they were led by Lillard who scored 34 points on 10-of-25 shooting from the field, 5-of-12 from three. Lillard also had 13 assists, while his running mate CJ McCollum had a solid night as well scoring 21 points.

Denver will look to pick up their first win of the series on Monday night in Game 2 with tip-off set for 8pm MST at Ball Arena.