Denver advanced into the Western Conference semifinals for the third consecutive season.
The Denver Nuggets were undaunted, even when down 14 points in the third quarter and facing an antagonistic Portland audience.
Nikola Jokic had 36 points and the Nuggets eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in six matches with a 126-115 victory Thursday night.
“Nobody can take the fight from us,” Jokic said. “We will only go out there and battle and that is what we have been doing. We’re never going to stop. Quit is not in our vocabulary.”
Michael Porter Jr. added 26 points, including 22 in the opening quarter, for its third-seeded Nuggets. Game 1 in the series is Monday in Phoenix.
Denver advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the third consecutive season.
They headed by 14 points in the third quarter but couldn’t stave off elimination.
Monte Morris hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close Denver to 101-98 going into the final period. Jokic hit a 3-pointer to put Denver ahead 108-106 and the Nuggets extended it to 117-108 on Austin Rivers’ 3 with 3:52 left.
Portland attempted to grab, yanking 121-115 on CJ McCollum’s layup, but Aaron Gordon struck on a corner 3-pointer that all but secured it for Denver with under a minute to move.
“I believe that the secret was if they were moving on runs and we weren’t playing our best every huddle was positive, remaining participated, rough men to be better, but staying together,” Denver coach Michael Malone stated. “I believe we’ve shown as a team that each time we hit adversity, most times, we never run from it. We buckle , we embrace it, we find a way”
Portland crumbled in the last quarter, outscored 28-14.
“We didn’t do what was necessary to win the show,” Lillard said. “We’ve got to keep fighting, keep working and keep returning to combat. Regardless of how it ended, we’re going to get our heads held high, have course.
The Nuggets took a 3-2 lead in the show with a 147-140 double overtime victory in Denver on Tuesday night. It loathed Lillard’s epic playoff performance: He had 55 points, such as 12 3-pointers, and 10 assists. It was the most 3-pointers ever in a playoff match.
The Blazers needed large man Jusuf Nurkic to keep out of foul trouble. Tasked with defending Jokic, he fouled out at 3 of the first five matches.
Nurkic did not possess a foul in the first half, but then had four quick fouls in the third quarter and needed to head to the bench.
“I believe one of the reasons is that they just outplayed us,” Nurkic said when asked about what went wrong for the Blazers. “I give them credit, they had a nightmare of a season.”
Porter had six 3-pointers from the first quarter , tying an NBA playoff record for most 3s a quarter.
“here is a young man, 26 points in back-to-back games, and he’s only a second-year participant. So Mike is only gonna get better than he is, that is a frightening thought,” Malone said. “It was essential for Michael to get off to that start because he sort of kept us afloat.”
Lillard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Blazers a 68-61 lead in the half. He raised his arms to encourage the audience as he led off the floor.