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Seven Things from the Blazers’ Crushing Loss to the Nuggets

The Nuggets now sit a single game away from eliminating the Trail Blazers.

Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets - Game Five Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nuggets secured a thrilling 147-140 double-overtime victory over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Damian Lillard did everything in his power to lift Portland past Denver in Game 5. The former Weber State star connected on multiple clutch three-pointers and forced two overtime sessions as a result. In the loss, Lillard recorded an eye-popping 55 points on just 24 attempts from the field.

For the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic supplied 38 points in the starting lineup and Monte Morris erupted off the bench for 28 points of his own. The Nuggets are now one win away from eliminating the Blazers from the NBA Playoffs.

If you haven’t already, you can check out our quarter-by-quarter analysis by clicking here.

Dame Shines, Blazers Flounder

Let’s cut to the chase. The end of regulation and the overtime periods clearly etched this Game 5 into Portland’s collective memory. Lillard, who has an established reputation as a clutch performer, appeared poised to outperform even his typical late-game output. Distance, defense and pressure did not phase Lillard.

Down by three with 3.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Lillard found the bottom of the net to force overtime.

Down by eight with 1:52 left in overtime. Lillard produced three, not just one, amazing triples to force a second overtime.

Well, then the wheels came off. After abandoning Michael Porter Jr. on Lillard to finish regulation, the Nuggets summoned an ice-cold Shaquille Harrison off the bench for defensive purposes. Both approaches failed. Finally, Denver decided to glue Austin Rivers to Dame. Without a supporting cast to punish the Nuggets’ final adjustment, Lillard’s amazing comeback effort fell short.

Lillard recorded 28 points in the fourth quarter and overtime periods. CJ McCollum, Norman Powell and Jusuf Nurkic combined for five total points over that same stretch. Unacceptable.

Offensive Fouls

Nurkic was cruising towards another solid outing after finishing the first half a single rebound shy of a double-double. More importantly, he picked up just one personal foul in his first 19 minutes of action.

In the second half, Nurkic logged just five minutes before fouling out. Of his five fouls after halftime, three where on the offensive end of the floor. His final two-foul sequence came on consecutive possessions. First, he was whistled for an illegal screen on the offensive end. A few seconds later, he picked up his final foul underneath the rim on the defensive end.

Without Nurkic, Jokic got to all his spots and his gravity relentlessly collapsed the Blazers’ defense. Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony had serviceable moments against Jokic, though. But those moments typically required extra help. When that help arrived, the Nuggets found open shooters and snatched up offensive rebounds.

Rodney Revenge Game

We are just one full postseason removed from Rodney Hood’s overtime heroics against the Nuggets. In tonight’s game, Denver captured a crucial victory thanks to consistent contributions from Monte Morris. Morris was an absolute monster. Buoyed by a friendly matchup against McCollum, Morris carved up Portland’s defense whenever the ball landed in his hands. In 41 minutes off the bench, Morris recorded 28 points.

Moments That Sting

  • It felt like every corner three-pointer that the Blazers attempted was destined to miss by the time the second overtime arrived. For some reason those attempts always lacked the correct timing and the shooters lacked decisiveness as a result. If you remove Lillard from the equation, the Blazers’ supporting cast connected on just 29 percent of their three-point attempts in tonight’s loss.
  • Missed dunks, woof. I don’t want to beat up on Robert Covington here. He was one of the few Blazers players that delivered in clutch moments. That said, his missed slam with 41 seconds left in the second overtime is burned into my brain.
  • The Blazers, regardless of their struggles in the final overtime, found themselves in position to force another session with 10 seconds left on the clock. Lillard, who was smothered, dished the ball to McCollum on the wing. Before starting his action, McCollum stepped out of bounds. Turnover. Nuggets ball.
  • Finally, Porter’s three-pointer with roughly 1:30 left in the second overtime felt like a back breaker. The Blazers had a perfect opportunity to end that possession, but an offensive rebound from Aaron Gordon supplied the foundation for Porter’s dagger.

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The Nuggets and Blazers return to action on Thursday back in Portland.