It was CJ McCollum's world in the overtime, err second, I mean third... no wait fourth?! Yes, you heard that right, yet this one took four overtimes. It was Rodney Hood coming up big in the fourth and final overtime. Hood made three consecutive baskets in the final 1:07 and his third bucket was a clutch three-pointer.
With the Blazers-Nuggets series shifting to Portland, Denver’s head coach Mike Malone talked about how important it is on the road to win the first quarter and quiet down the home crowd.
Portland won the first quarter 23-17 in Game 3 and the Moda Center crowd was on its feet at the end of the quarter.
Coach Malone was right -- winning the first quarter is important and in a dogfight of a game. It took four overtimes and an overturned call on the out of bounds call in the final seconds of 3OT to go the Blazers way in order to force the fourth and final overtime, but Portland now takes a 2-1 series lead. The Blazers held off the Nuggets once again, this time with a 140-137 win on Friday night.
Nikola Jokic made just 1-of-2 from the free throw line at the 5.6 second mark in the fourth OT.
The Trail Blazers biggest lead was 10 points. Portland was still able to get the win despite Damian Lillard having a off shooting night. Lillard went 10-of-23 from the floor to finish with 28 points. But he came big when it mattered most. Lillard had five clutch points in the second OT and the final bucket to tie it in the third overtime.
Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 3 victory:
1. Bodies fly early
The physicality of this series has been talked about at length, and in Game 3 it was no different. Both teams were hitting the floor because they were going after loose balls, running into hard screens, or falling to ground after battling for a rebound.
Late in the first quarter, Damian Lillard showed how much this Portland team has been focused on defense this series. Lillard poked the ball away and ran nearly the length of the floor to eventually slide on the ground for the loose ball. He didn’t come up with it, but that kind of effort on defense is what the Blazers have been preaching in the playoffs and that’s how teams get to the Western Conference Finals.
From the end of the first quarter into the second quarter, the Nuggets went without a field goal for over five minutes of play, while their bench went 0-for-8 during that span.
The Blazers came up with key stops in OT including a Moe Harkless block in the final minutes and a Lillard steal in the final seconds. The effort never stopped.
2. Nuggets still couldn’t but a basket from deep
Denver finished the first quarter 1-for-8 from three-point range. The Blazers were contesting a lot of the Nuggets’ threes, but just like in Game 2, Denver was not knocking down the wide-open ones in the first quarter.
Nuggets starting point guard Jamal Murray got the ball rolling from deep. After hitting two three-pointers in the second quarter, the Nuggets’ threes started falling -- a little.
Through three quarters, the Nuggets were 8-for-24 from three and they finished the 4OT game 15/42.
3. McCollum and Harkless come up big in the 4th and overtime
CJ McCollum put Nugget players on skates all night, but it wasn’t until the final period that McCollum really started scoring. Heading into the fourth, McCollum had just 13 points. He finished with 41 points and that was after throwing down a big transition dunk.
McCollum dunks are rare and Moda Center was going crazy after that slam put the Blazers up 89-83 with 7:57 remaining in the game.
The Blazers also got a nice lift from Harkless, who had been playing with a right ankle sprain. Harkless came up with a clutch three-pointer and driving lay-up in the final minutes of the game.
McCollum's hot shooting continued into overtime(s). He hit five straight points to put the Blazers up 107-104 with 3:06 to go in OT. The buckets didn't stop there. McCollum had seven points in the third overtime. McCollum finished with 41 points.
NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers and Nuggets will tip-off Game 4 on Sunday at 4:00pm. Our pregame coverage starts at 3:30pm on NBC Sports Northwest.
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