Trail Blazers

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard's record-setting night not enough against Nuggets

Trail Blazers

Denver was rolling early in Game 5.

But Portland didn’t roll over.

With a 22-point lead in the first half for Denver, the Nuggets had it cooking from three, while throwing Portland off its offensive game plan in the first quarter.

Yet in the second half:

It was Damian Lillard takeover time.

With Jusuf Nurkic in foul trouble, Portland looked to its guards.

And they rose to the occasion.

Yet in the end, they ran out of time.  

Anchored by Robert Covington late, the Blazers were able to get enough timely stops in regulation. 

And no bigger than Damian Lillard's steal from Austin Rivers which led to a CJ McCollum three to cut it to one with 13.2 seconds remaining. 

With a Lillard three-point bomb and just 3.0 seconds remaining on the clock, the Blazers tied it up at 121. 

 

The Blazers ran out of time as Covington fouled out with 8.0 seconds remaining in the second OT. 

Despite Lillard going off and notching 55 points for a playoff-high, Denver outlasted Portland for a 147-140 victory. 

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With the win, the Blazers take a 3-2 series lead.

Portland started the game 0-for-8 and found itself in a quick 10-0 hole, which forced the Blazers to take a timeout.

When the outside shots weren’t falling early, the Blazers guards decided to take it to the rim.

The Nuggets, on the other hand, got much of their scoring from three in the first quarter, hitting 7-of-13 to take a 38-25 lead.

Portland went on a 23-6 run to end the second quarter to cut Denver’s lead to three.  

After three quarters, the Blazers held a 94-92 lead while shooting 50.0 percent from the field. Portland hit five of its seven three-point attempts in the third quarter.

GAME 5 FINAL BOX SCORE: Nuggets 147, Trail Blazers 140

After the Nuggets imposed their length on the Blazers to start the fourth, Portland charged back. 

Anytime the Nuggets would go on a run, the Blazers would have an answer -- until the final overtime. 

Robert Covington was tasked with defending Nikola Jokic late after Jusuf Nurkic fouled out midway through the fourth. 

But with the tough defensive assignment, Covington also picked it up his scoring late.

 

Lillard's 12 overtime points gave Portland enough of a boost to force a second overtime. 

The Nuggets were once again without Will Barton (right hamstring; strain), PJ Dozier (right adductor; strain) and Jamal Murray (left ACL; surgery).

The Good:

There was no quit in the Blazers.

It was a game of runs, but as Damian Lillard put the Blazers on his back in the second and third quarters, Portland charged back after being down 22 in the first half.

Through the first quarter and a half it seemed that the Nuggets were going to have their way with the Blazers. But Lillard and CJ McCollum had different plans. Portland chipped away at the lead. Between Lillard’s efficient shooting and his playmaking, the Blazers settled in to make it a game at halftime with the Nuggets up, 65-62.

Portland outscored Denver 37-27 in the second quarter.

Lillard continued to hit difficult shot after difficult shot in the second half, but Portland also got a big third quarter from Norman Powell on both ends. Powell recorded 13 points for the game.

The Blazers All-Star point guard was playing on another level. 

To say he was dialed in from three is an understatement.  

Lillard finished with 55 points on 17-of-24 shooting, including an elite 12-of-17 from three after notching just 10 points in Game 4. He also recorded 10 assists. Lillard's 55 and 10 game is the first one in NBA history.  

The Bad: 

Just as expected, the Nuggets were the aggressors and the ones to strike first. Denver brought the energy and focus on both ends early.

 

Aaron Gordon quickly made an impact from three, starting off the game a perfect 2-for-2 behind the arc. But it wasn’t just Gordon stepping up to provide a scoring punch early. The Nuggets starting five looked a completely different group from Game 4. The Nuggets scored in a variety of ways in the first half and weren’t hesitant like in Game 4.

Denver shot 58.3 percent from the field in the first quarter. 

Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic kept the Nuggets in the game in the final period after exchanging three-point bombs.

And it wasn’t just the three-point shot that made a difference to start, whenever the Blazers gave up a wide-open lane, the Nuggets took advantage. Denver’s rookie guard Markus Howard along with Monte Morris gave the Nuggets a big scoring boost off the bench. The duo joined Austin Rivers, Michael Porter Jr., and Gordon as Nuggets who found their stroke from three after having rough shooting performances in Tuesday's game.

Morris finished with a playoff-high 28 points, while helping the Nuggets build a lead in OT. Jokic finished with 38.  

As the Blazers picked up their physicality on defense in the third quarter, Jusuf Nurkic was charged with three quick fouls in the quarter after only recording one foul in the first half.

Portland had to finish the final four minutes of the contest without Nurkic after he fouled out. The Blazers went with a small-ball lineup with Carmelo Anthony and Robert Covington in the front court. 

For the game, three of Nurkic's fouls came on the offensive end after he picked up his fifth foul midway through the fourth quarter. He then quickly picked up his sixth foul on the next possession.    

The Highlight:

It was Lillard Time in the second half:

The Stat: 

After starting the game 0-for-8 from the field, the Blazers found their stroke in the second quarter. Portland finished the first half shooting 48.8 percent.

 

Next up: Game 6 will tip-off at 5:00p.m. PT on Thursday in Portland on NBCSNW.