Game 4 was yet another physical showdown between the Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets and once again it came down to the wire.
It took nearly an entire quarter for Portland to get in a groove offensively and then the halftime break seemed to disrupt that offensive flow.
Game 4 was another dogfight with seven lead changes and six ties heading into the final period.
Denver had its way with Portland down low for most of the night. The Nuggets notched 38 points in the paint to the Blazers’ 28 after three quarters of play.
The fourth quarter was full of boos as Blazers fans were not pleased with officiating. Behind the loud Moda Center crowd, Portland was not able to complete the comeback after Will Barton put on a show late hitting two big three-pointers in the final minutes of action. The Nuggets held off the Blazers, 116-112. Denver now evens up the series at 2-2.
The Nuggets biggest lead was 10.
Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 4 loss:
1. Portland’s offense was up and down
Fatigue might have played a factor early as the Blazers started the game 2-for-9 from the field. But defense led to easy offense late in the first quarter. Damian Lillard came up with two steals with his second steal leading to a transition dunk that brought the Moda Center crowd to its feet.
In the third quarter, Portland was outscored 27-14. Late in the quarter, the Blazers were getting hit hard with fouls, which made it difficult for Portland to get in a flow. Both Maurice Harkless and Enes Kanter picked up their fourth fouls midway through the third. After Kanter got called for an offensive foul and then Lillard was charged with his second foul just minutes after Kanter’s questionable call, the Blazers crowd was yelling ‘refs you suck’ and the boos were heard all over the arena.
2. The Nurkic effect
At the 4:10 mark of the first quarter, Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic made his way from the locker room to sit on the Trail Blazers bench. Portland was down by two points at that point in the game.
The Blazers center had only made an appearance in Moda Center one other time since his season-ending leg injury.
The other game he sat on the bench?
-- The Blazers close out win over the Thunder when Portland was able to come from behind and Lillard hit “the shot” to send the Thunder packing.
At the end of the first quarter vs. Denver, Nurkic was honored at center court with the 2019 Maurice Lucas Award.
Nurkic stayed in the locker room for most of the second half on Sunday night. While he was out on the court in the first half, the Blazers outscored the Nuggets 45-37.
The Bosnian Beast made his way back to the bench with just over seven minutes left in the game with the Blazers down six. But on Sunday Nurk’s presence wasn’t enough like it had been in Game 5.
3. Seth Money
The second quarter was all about Seth Curry. The Trail Blazers got a nice offensive boost from Curry off the bench. He set a new playoff career-high with 16 points by halftime.
Curry shot an efficient 6-of-8, including 4-of-6 from three-point range in the first half.
Entering Sunday’s game, Curry was averaging 9.8 points, while shooting 42.9% from deep through the Blazers first eight postseason games.
In the first three games of the Blazers series vs. the Nuggets, Rodney Hood has been the scoring punch off the bench, but Sunday it was Curry’s turn, at least in the first half.
The problem for the Blazers was the Nuggets dialed in on Curry in the second half, even doubling him at times. With Curry demanding a lot of attention after having a stellar first half, he only attempted one shot in the second half. He missed that jumper at the 8:22 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Blazers needed more Curry in the second half, especially with Harkless and Kanter getting into foul trouble. Kanter scored just five points in the loss.
NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers and Nuggets will tip-off Game 5 in Denver on Tuesday night at 7:30pm pacific time. You can catch our pregame coverage starts at 7:00pm.
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