The level of intensity was high in Denver, to say the least.
Just as the Blazers expected with a 1-0 lead, the Nuggets brought the energy and physicality early in Game 2 Monday night.
Denver took a quick 17-7 lead in the first four minutes, the Blazers and Nuggets bench cleared after double technical fouls were called on Michael Porter Jr. and the Blazers coaching staff when Portland called timeout.
And that was just the beginning of the overall chippy game.
With defensive struggles coupled with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum as the only Blazers in double figures after three quarters, the Nuggets cruised to a 128-109 victory to tie the series at one game apiece.
After the two teams settled in midway through the first quarter, the emotions were still high and the efficient scoring continued for Denver with Portland struggling to defend Nikola Jokic and company.
But just when it seemed the Nuggets were going to roll early, Damian Lillard went on a scoring tear from deep.
Lillard took over in the second quarter to help keep the Blazers in the game in the first half.
Lillard went 8-for-10 from three in the first half. He had six threes in the second quarter alone, but his eight threes in the half tied a playoff record.
Denver held a 13-point lead in the first quarter.
At the end of the first quarter, the Nuggets took a 31-25 lead.
The turnovers continued to pile up for Portland in the second half and Denver took advantage.
The foul calls also quickly accumulated for both teams, but in the third quarter players on both sides showed their frustrations towards the officiating. A total of 52 fouls were called in the aggressive contest.
Heading into the final period, the Nuggets took a 101-87 lead.
Despite CJ McCollum and Norman Powell picking up the scoring in the fourth, the Blazers weren't able to get enough stops to chip away at the Nuggets lead.
The Nuggets were without Will Barton (right hamstring; strain), PJ Dozier (right adductor; strain) and Jamal Murray (left ACL; surgery).
Damian Lillard notched 10 points in the first quarter but it was his 37-footer from the Nuggets logo that started the comeback charge for Portland in the first quarter. The Blazers ended the quarter 5-of-7 from three.
Despite the Nuggets extra pressure on Lillard, he was still able to break free, especially from three.
It was the Lillard show in the second quarter.
Whether it was his side-step or curling off a screen, Lillard was locked in from behind the arc. The Blazers point guard made five threes out of his seven attempts in his first 17 minutes of action.
Lillard kept the Blazers within striking distance early.
He's 32 points in the first half (22 in the second quarter) was the second most points in a half in a playoff game in franchise history.
Nuggets big man Aaron Gordon took over the tough defensive assignment on Lillard in the second half after Austin Rivers had defended Lillard for most of the first half. After the Nuggets said they were looking to be more physical in Game 2, they did just that. The Blazers point guard played through plenty of contact.
Lillard finished with 42 points and 10 assists.
After holding Nikola Jokic to a season-low one assist in Game 1, Jokic notched three assists in six minutes as his teammates helped out Monday.
Jokic, who led all scorers at the end of the first quarter with 14, took it at Jusuf Nurkic from the jump. Nurkic fouled out with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Led by Jokic in the first half, the Nuggets shot 65.9 percent from the field. The Nuggets notched 34 points in the paint in the first two quarters.
Jokic finished with 38 points on an extremely efficient 15-of-20 shooting.
Austin Rivers, Michael Porter Jr., and Paul Millsap all stepped up their scoring contributions from Game 1.
Porter Jr. took over the scoring while Jokic was on the bench early in the second quarter. Denver outscored Portland 12-4 early in the second. Porter Jr.’s aggressive attack to the rim also forced Norman Powell to pick up his third foul with 8:43 remaining in the second quarter.
The Blazers had six total turnovers in Game 1 Saturday. By halftime, Portland had committed 10 turnovers in Monday’s game. The Blazers finished with 20.
Over 20 years ago, Vince Carter hit 8 first-half 3-pointers against the 76ers to set an NBA Playoffs record; Lillard tied the impressive feat Monday night.
Next up: Game 3 will tip-off Thursday in Portland at 7:30p.m. PT on NBCSNW.