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Recap: Denver Nuggets finish off Portland Trail Blazers in Game 6

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NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Game 6 between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers got started with a 3-point makes from the hands of Norman Powell and Michael Porter Jr. in the first 50 seconds of the game. C.J. McCollum hit a mid-range jumper right after. Powell forced a miss out of Porter, but that didn’t stop him from hitting a triple following a miss from McCollum that had Denver leading 6-5 after two minutes.

Nikola Jokic was called for an offensive foul on Jusuf Nurkic, and McCollum got the lead back for Portland with a floater that Austin Rivers quickly answered. Lillard hit a shot off the glass, but Aaron Gordon tied the game up with a 1-of-2 trip at the charity stripe. Powell went a perfect 2-of-2 on his own trip to the free-throw line. Following another Denver turnover, Powell hit a triple in transition, but Porter quickly answered it to stop the run at five points before being called for a foul on Lillard. Lillard went 2-of-2 at the line before he traded triples with MPJ who was up to 12 points on the night five minutes into the first quarter.

Coming out of a Denver timeout, Jokic found Porter under the cup for a layup that had them back within two. The two sides traded misses before a Gordon block turned into a transition triple for Porter who was up to 17 points with 5:30 still remaining in the first quarter. Jokic was called for his second foul on a Nurkic layup attempt, and he was sent to the bench much earlier than he’s used to while Nurkic tied the game at 20 with a 1-of-2 trip at the line.

Gordon got the lead back with a big dunk off of a pass from Porter. Portland tied it up before a Lillard triple gave Portland a three-point lead. The two sides traded a pair of empty possessions within 20 seconds of each other before Porter hit his sixth 3-pointer of the night. Carmelo Anthony dropped down a triple from the corner. MPJ answered with a big dunk that forced Portland to call a timeout leading by one.

The two teams traded misses out of the timeout before Rondae Hollis-Jefferson got a layup to bounce around the rim and fall in. They traded turnovers, but neither side was able to score off of it. The offenses had cooled off significantly before Anfernee Simons hit a 3-pointer with under 40 seconds remaining. JaMychal Green got to the rim and drew a foul while getting a layup to fall, but he couldn’t complete the 3-point play. Portland ended up leading at the end of the first quarter 33-29.

Portland hit another triple to start the second quarter. Denver was unable to answer before the two teams traded two-point makes with Portland leading by seven. Monte Morris went 1-of-2 at the line that had Denver within six. Facundo Campazzo got to the line where he knocked down a pair of free throws. Anthony scored at the rim before Green answered with a quick dunk off of a feed from Markus Howard.

Anthony poured in a jumper from 18 feet. Jokic answered it with his first basket of the game as Nurkic was playing great defense against him. Campazzo was knocked down in the corner, but he was able to bury the triple despite the contact. The only problem was McCollum hit a 3-pointer of his own. Campazzo hit a reverse layup, and it was 45-43 with 7:00 still to go in the half. Jokic tied the game up at 45 coming out of the timeout as he barrelled through Lillard for two points.

Jokic nearly rattled in a 3-pointer from the wing, but it instead turned into a layup for McCollum that Jokic answered with a floater. Robert Covington was at the line for two points after being fouled by Porter, and he went 2-of-2. Lillard scored another two points off of a loose ball scramble. Gordon got to the line for a pair of free throws that had Denver back within two. Denver had two empty possessions while the Blazers scored two layups, and Denver called a timeout with 3:37 remaining down by six.

Porter got to the rim for two out of the timeout, but Simons hit his second 3-pointer on the night. Morris got to the cup through a foul, but he was unable to convert the 3-point play. Simons drilled another triple, and the Blazers were up by eight as MPJ was unable to knock down a 3-pointer of his own. A Nurkic layup off of a Lillard pass had Portland up by double digits with just over 2:00 remaining. An offensive rebound by the Nuggets turned into a corner 3-pointer for Morris. Porter grabbed a steal off of a lazy pass that turned into a dunk, and the Blazers’ lead was down to five before Lillard got to the rim for two more. Jokic poured in a 3-pointer with 14.2 remaining to cut the deficit to four, but Lillard hit one of his own with just under two seconds remaining in the half to stretch the lead to seven. Portland went into the half leading 68-61 after shooting nearly 60 percent from the field.

Portland picked up right where they left off with a quick two points. Covington hit a long triple after a defensive breakdown gave him a wide-open look. Jokic put his own miss back in, but Powell wiped it out immediately. Jokic got inside for two points, but Denver had no answer for Portland inside as they scored again and forced the Nuggets to call a quick timeout.

Campazzo was fouled on a 3-point attempt coming out of the timeout, and he went a perfect 3-of-3 at the line to cut the deficit back to nine. Powell tipped in a McCollum miss to get up to 17 points on the night. McCollum hit a 3-pointer in transition, and the lead was up to 14 before Jokic hit a mid-range jumper. Campazzo was called for a blocking foul on a McCollum drive, and McCollum went 1-of-2 at the line. Jokic got into the paint with the shot clock winding down, and he turned the bucket into a 3-point play at the line to make it a 10-point game.

A triple from Portland was answered by a two-pointer from Gordon, but Covington hit his third 3-pointer of the night to make it a 14-point game. Jokic was fouled and sent to the line, and he went a perfect 2-of-2. Up by 12, McCollum hit a mid-range jumper with the shot clock under four seconds, but Morris immediately hit a layup. McCollum banked in a shot to make it a 14-point game before Covington forced a turnover out of Jokic. Gordon hit a 3-pointer to make it an 11-point game, and there was a timeout with 4:14 remaining in the quarter.

Nurkic was at the line following a foul by Morris, and he went 2-of-2 on this trip. They traded misses before Jokic got to the cup for a big dunk around Anthony. Gordon was called for a foul that sent Anthony to the line with Portland in the bonus, and he kept the lead at 13 with a perfect 2-of-2 trip. Jokic was fouled by Nurkic on a 3-point attempt, and he knocked down all three to make it a 10-point game. Green forced a turnover out of Anthony, but Simons made a great play in transition to stop the fast break.

Denver failed to score, but they grabbed a steal in transition that Morris turned into two points. Nurkic was called for a charge that was his fourth foul of the night, and Jokic immediately got to the basket for two points. He drew a foul on Covington and went 2-of-2 at the line to bring Denver within four. Facu was called for his fifth foul of the night to send Lillard to the line where he went 2-of-2 himself. Green drew a foul at the rim on Covington, and his two free throws had Denver within four again.

Rivers forced a 3-point miss out of Lillard, but Denver was unable to score. Lillard hit a pair of free throws with less than 10 seconds remaining, but Morris hit a triple going the other way as time expired to bring Denver within three. It was 101-98 heading into the final period, and Denver showed off their grit after looking like they might be heading for a blowout midway through the third quarter.

Denver started the fourth quarter with Morris finding Paul Millsap for a floater to bring them within one. Millsap grabbed an offensive rebound, but he was unable to turn that into points. Portland did the same thing before Morris drilled a 20-foot jumper to give Denver a lead for the first time since the first quarter. Melo got the lead back off of a miss by the Nuggets. MPJ forced up a 3-pointer, but Portland failed to make him pay after an errant pass went out of bounds. Rivers had the ball stripped away, and Anthony then knocked down a mid-range jumper while being fouled before converting the 3-point play to stretch the lead to four.

Green was fouled by Anthony while going for a rebound, but Denver was unable to score on the extra possession. After a couple of quiet minutes, Morris hit a 3-pointer to bring them within one and force a Portland timeout. Out of the timeout, Portland failed to score, and Jokic buried a triple over the outstretched hand of Nurkic. The only problem was Nurkic got to the rim with an interesting layup to tie the game at 108. A ball was knocked out of bounds by Anthony which was reviewed by the refs after a challenge by Portland which was unsuccessful, and Rivers scored two out of the dead ball.

Jokic was called for a foul, but Nurkic failed to score off of the inbounds pass before turning it over out of bounds. Morris hit a floater, and the Nuggets were leading by four as the Blazers were struggling to score in the final period. Powell was called for his fifth foul with 4:32 remaining, and Green hit a pair of free throws which gave them a six-point lead as Powell followed up the foul with a missed layup. Jokic drew a foul on Nurkic, and Rivers followed it up with a triple that made Denver’s lead nine points with 3:49 remaining.

A turnover by Lillard was grabbed by Gordon who was fouled, and Jokic and Lillard traded a pair of two-point buckets. Jokic had the ball stripped away by Covington, and Lillard was sent to the line by Rivers for three free throws where he knocked down all three with 2:29 remaining to make it a six-point game. Denver turned the ball over with 2:06 remaining, but Portland was unable to turn it into any points. Jokic got to the rim for a layup with 1:37 remaining which made it an eight-point game. Denver failed to secure a rebound off of a Lillard miss, and McCollum made them pay with an immediate make on the inbounds pass with a free two points. Jokic failed to score, but a Green offensive rebound turned into three points from Gordon for a nine-point lead with a minute remaining which would be the final dagger with Denver leading 124-115.

Morris got to the line with 31.1 remaining, and he knocked down both free throws as the Blazers’ starters checked out for the final time. Denver would go on to win 126-115 to secure a series victory over the Blazers which gave the Nuggets their first series win in the Michael Malone and Jokic era in fewer than seven games. Denver will play the winner of the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers’ series in Round 2.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic - 36

Assists: Monte Morris - 9

Rebounds: JaMychal Green - 9

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic 36 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 13-of-22 field goal, 2-of-4 3-point, 8-of-8 free throw

A quick honorable mention to Porter and Morris who were absolutely instrumental in this Game 6 victory.