clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Recap: Nuggets survive Lillard’s epic performance to take 3-2 series advantage

New, comments

What. A. Game.

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

What a whirlwind of a game that was.

To recap:

The Nuggets now lead the series 3-2 after surviving a nuclear performance by Damian Lillard. Not only did Lillard set the playoff record with 12 three-pointers in a game, but he scored 55 points on just 24 shots and it still wasn't enough for Portland to beat Denver.

It was a full on team effort for the Nuggets as everyone contributed to the Nuggets finding a way to pull off a 147-140 victory in overtime.

Now to all that ensured:

It was a brilliant start for the Nuggets as they opened the game on a 10-0 run behind two threes from Austin Rivers. Denver was able to build some early momentum which they rode the rest of the first quarter as Nikola Jokic, Rivers, and Michael Porter Jr. all had 8 points to lead Denver to a 38-25 lead after one quarter of play.

Everything seemed to be going fine and dandy until the middle of the second quarter rolled around. Denver was able to build their lead up to 22-points behind 3 three-pointers from Markus Howard in the second quarter, but then Portland caught fire and the Nuggets went cold offensively.

After getting their lead to 54-32, the Trail Blazers finished the half on a 30-11 run as the Nuggets held a slim 65-62 advantage at the break. Portland’s comeback had a lot to do with Damian Lillard, who scored 18 first half points behind 3 three-pointers.

Denver was unable to regain any momentum in the third quarter as Portland built a 94-92 lead going into the fourth. The Nuggets dealt with foul trouble almost all of the third quarter as they picked up three team fouls in the first 44 seconds of the quarter. Because of that it was an uphill climb for the Nuggets most of the quarter so the fact it was just a 2-point deficit after three was actually pretty impressive.

It was a much better start to the fourth quarter for the Nuggets as Monte Morris drilled a three along with some big baskets from Porter and JaMychal Green to give the Nuggets a 103-98 lead with 8:09 left in the game. Denver built their lead up to 7-points before the Trail Blazers went on another run to tie the game back up with exactly six minutes to play.

This was the point in the game that Jokic subbed back in which was awesome news for the Nuggets. Jokic made a big three-pointer then found Rivers for another huge three just a few possessions later to vault the Nuggets lead back up to five with just over three minutes to play. It was a back and fourth game the entire second half though as the Trail Blazers ended up tying it before the Nuggets could finally build a 3-point lead with 12.4 seconds remaining following two clutch free-throws by Monte Morris.

Denver needed just one more stop to walk away victorious, but Lillard had other plans as the drilled his eighth three-pointer of the game with three seconds remaining to force the game into overtime. That’s surprisingly when the game started to turn in the Nuggets favor though behind 3 three-pointers: two by Morris and one by River to push Denver’s lead up to 9-points with 2:14 left in overtime.

Lillard just would not stop scoring though as he eventually hit back-to-back threes — his ninth and 10th threes of the game — in the final minute of overtime to make it a 2-point Nuggets advantage with 22 seconds to play. History repeated itself to close overtime as Lillard made an insane three-pointer with three seconds remaining to eventually send the game to double-overtime after Rivers missed the shot at the buzzer for Denver.

Double-overtime produced a lot of back and fourth, but the Nuggets were ultimately able to survive one of the best playoff performances from Lillard in NBA history. With some clutch shot making in the closing minutes the Nuggets captured. 147-140 victory to take a 3-2 series advantage over Portland.

Lillard ultimately set a playoff record making 12 three-pointers finishing with 55 points, but it was not enough as the Nuggets still captured the victory. Jokic led the way for Denver with 38 points on 14-of-31 shooting from the field to go along with 11 rebounds and nine assists. Morris scored 28 points and Porter added 26 points in the win as both made some incredibly clutch shots to help lead the Nuggets to victory.

Enjoy this one Nuggets fans, that was an all-time classic. Denver and Portland will be back in action Thursday night for Game 6 as the Nuggets look to close out the series.