Blazers fall to the Nuggets in first home playoff game

by Miles DeCaro

This will be a good one. Teams that win Game 3 in a 7 game series when it’s tied 1-1 coming in go on to win the series 73% of the time. Who will it be tonight?

Playoff pre-game intros at the Moda Center are strong. Crowd is clearly into it and the visuals are well done. There is a lot of energy in this arena. 8,000 fans in the building. What’s up, Charlie Folkstead!

First Quarter:

MPJ travels and then hits a 14 foot floater to start of the scoring. The Nuggets continue giving Aaron Gordon the defensive assignment on Dame.  CJ hits a one legged floater to start the scoring for the Blazers.

RoCo with the nasty reverse dunk on a backdoor cut. Great pass by Nurk. 

Lillard is attacking the basket a lot to start this game and just banged all over Campazzo. Another great pass by Nurkic and the Blazers take a 20-12 lead.  Jokic responds calmly with another 3 pointer.

Great block by Nurk. He’s doing everything tonight.

BROOM BALL off a 3 point miss by Austin Rivers.

Fast pace tonight.  Nuggets seem to have weathered the storm.  A Carmelo free throw with 56 seconds left ends a 3 minute scoring drought for the Blazers.

Denver is 7-10 from 3 to start the game.  Portland needs some defense.

39-30 Nuggets.

Second Quarter:

Nurk came to play tonight against his old team. He’s everywhere battling. Gets an offensive rebound and put back for an and-one.

Better defense for Portland in the 2nd quarter. Nurk gets a steal and immediately turns into another assist for a layup.

Another great pass by Nurk for the lob that leads to an Anfernee Simons layup.

5 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists for Nurkic. 

Norman Powell loses a shoe and the Nuggets get a transition dunk from Jokic to stretch the lead to 10 at 53-43 with 5 minutes to go in the first half.

Four point play for MPJ at 3:51. Tough call on Norman Powell.  Followed by an offensive foul on MPJ kicking out his leg to try to get another 4 point play. You win some and lose some.

Another turnover caused by Nurk’s defense leads to a transition dunk for Dame.

Lillard leads the game in scoring with 20 and Jokic leads Denver
with 16.

Nurkic had 7 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and a block.  He was everywhere.

Nuggets are shooting 60% from 3pt at 12-20 and the Blazers are 5-17 for 29.4% from 3pt. Denver’s bench is outscoring Portland’s 20-5. These are the difference right now.

This game has been really fun to watch and is living up to Michael Wilbon’s prediction that it would be “the best game of the playoffs so far.”

64-59 Denver.

Third Quarter:

Powell hit a 3 to start the 2nd half.  Jokic responds with a free throw line jumper and then Campazzo hits a 3.

The Blazers can’t break the seal here as the Nuggets have consistently hit shots to keep them at bay and remain ahead by about 7-12 since the end of the first quarter.

After a Norman Powell dunk, Jokic hits back to back 3 pointers. He is on fire tonight. 10-13 fg, 4-6 from 3pt for 24 points.

Stotts uses his challenge for a charge call on Nurkic on Campazzo.  Not sure that is a good idea.

The call is upheld. Tough one but I think it was a good call. Campazzo is a pest on defense.

Another offensive rebound and putback by Nurk cuts the lead to 75-70 and the Portland crowd cheers on their team to try to will them back into this.

Dame presses the turbo button to zoom past Jokic for a laying to cut the lead to 75-72. Cut to the Ne-Yo house music “Let’s Go” and the crowd goes wild.

Great after time out play from Michael Malone. Pin down screen to allow Jokic to cut to the basket. Gets fouled. Hits both free throws.

Melo finally hits a 3 after almost 2 full games of misses and the lead is 2. Chants of “Let’s Go Blazers!”

Nurkic with more offensive rebounding and another putback cuts the lead to 2 again after a couple Jokic free throws.

Enes Kanter come is at 1:31 to go after a no call on a Nurkic layup leads to a 4th foul called on him.

Jokic rag dolls Kanter for an offensive rebound and then Kanter loses his footing and responds with a 90’s playoff foul. Will likely be a flagrant.

Yep, the call is upgraded to a Flagrant 1. Two shots and the ball back. That is a killer.

Jokic hits both free throws, but then a moving screen is called on JaMychal Green, so the Blazers escape the flagrant only giving up 2 points.

Monte Morris is called for traveling with 1.6 seconds left. Back to back turnovers for the Nuggets. Crowd may be having an effect on them.

Melo barely misses a chance a buzzer beating 3 after a smart 3/4 court pass.

Blazers defense stepped up and held the Nuggets to 25% shooting in the 3rd quarter.

84-79 Nuggets. The fourth should be a good one.

Fourth Quarter:

Hollis Jefferson comes in for Kanter. I guess Billy Donovan was right: “Can’t play Kanter” at least in the playoffs.

Simons misses a wide open corner 3 that would have been big.  MPJ corner 3 on the other end stretches the lead to 8.  They just can’t break the seal.

CJ misses a long two. Scoreless in the second half. He needs to step up here.

On queue, he gets himself to the line for two FTs. Maybe that will get him going.  Lillard back in at 9:14. Much earlier than normal.  CJ gets into the lane and gets a bucket. 89-83.

Melo with a nice pump fake, dribble and corner 3. 91-86. This is getting good.

Nurk comes back at the 7:30 mark. So does Jokic.

Immediately a tough call on Nurk trying to deny Jokic for his 5th foul at 7:20. That will be big.

Another 3 for Melo and he has 8 in the in first 5 minutes of the 4th. 91-91.

Great defensive hustle by Campazzo.  Chased down a transition opportunity, poked it away from behind, and saved it in the corner.  Those are winning plays.

Jokic misses three straight and the crowd is INTO it.  Rivers hits a wing 3 to bring the lead to 94-91.

CJ hits one of two FTs and the Nuggets lead by 2.

Nurk fouls out at 5:17 on an Aaron Gordon and-one.  Stupid foul.  

Looks like Stotts is rolling with a small lineup to finish the game. RoCo at 5, Melo at 4, Powell at 3, CJ and Dame.

Gordon misses the FT and Melo goes in the way back machine to take Jokic to the rack for a nice layup.

Austin Rivers hits another big 3 to stretch the lead to 5 and then again to make it an 8 point lead with 3:49 left.

Lillard shakes off Aaron Gordon for a big layup. Chants of “Defense!  Defense!” fill the Moda Center.

Two free throws and an easy layup from Jokic stretch the score to 10.

Dame responds with a deep wing 3. Aaron Gordon dunk and then a Norman Powell dunk.

Lot of energy in the arena.  It’s great to hear fans into a playoff game.

Carmelo ties up Jokic and then wins the jump ball.  Wow.

Dame gets a dunk and was probably fouled but no call. It’s about that time.

Austin Rivers hits another 3 with 1:24 to go and that may be it. 

Dame misses back-to-back 3s.  Rivers misses a 3 and Carmelo tries to save it, but it goes into backcourt and right to Facundo Campazzo. He hits both free throws and its a 10 point lead.  That was a killer.

Dame hits a 3 after being fouled by Aaron Gordon for only the 3rd foul on Denver in the 4th quarter.

Austin Rivers is fouled and hits both free throws. 115-106 with 30 seconds to go.  What a quarter for him!

Carmelo responds with a 3 from the right break with 24.5 seconds gives Portland a little bit of life.

Campazzo misses one of two FTs. Dame responds with a 3.

Wild sequence where Campazzo loses the ball and as he’s falling down, pushes it towards Monte Morris. Looks like he got picked but the refs call a foul on Norman Powell.

Morris hits both FTs to make it 118-112. That will probably do it.

CJ hits a 3 and it’s 118-115.

Monte Morris is fouled with 3.2 seconds. Blazers need him to miss both.

Misses the first. . .

and second. . . 

But Jokic gets the rebound and putback to finish it off at 120-115. 

3 point shooting was the difference tonight. Blazers are 14-45 (31.1%) from 3 on the game and the Nuggets were 20-38 (52.6%)

Tough loss for the Blazers.

Game 4 on Saturday at 1:00pm PST back at the Moda Center.

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