NBA: Damian Lillard, Blazers open with road win over Nuggets

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at May 23 2021 01:49 PM

NBA: Damian Lillard, Blazers open with road win over Nuggets 1
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) and forward Robert Covington (23) celebrate after defeating the Denver Nuggets during game one in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Damian Lillard finished with 34 points and 13 assists, CJ McCollum scored 21 points, and the visiting Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 123-109 in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series on Saturday night.

Jusuf Nurkic had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Carmelo Anthony scored 18 points, Anfernee Simons had 14 and Norman Powell scored 10 for the sixth-seeded Trail Blazers.

Game 2 is Monday night, also in Denver.

Nikola Jokic had 34 points and 16 rebounds, Michael Porter Jr. finished with 25 points and nine rebounds, Aaron Gordon tallied 16 points and eight boards, and Monte Morris finished added 10 points off the bench for third-seeded Denver.

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The Nuggets led by three at intermission and increased it to nine with 8:34 left in the third quarter, but Portland dominated the rest of the period.

An 11-2 run tied the game at 73, and a three-point play by Powell gave the Trail Blazers a 76-75 lead. They went up 81-78 on McCollum's 3-pointer.

Jokic got Denver back within one with a layup, but Lillard scored eight of his 15 third-quarter points in the final 1:26 to give Portland a 96-86 lead heading into the fourth.

The Trail Blazers hit two 3-pointers early in the fourth to go ahead 102-90, prompting the Nuggets to call a timeout. They tightened up after that and scored eight straight to get within four points with 8:14 remaining.

Simons and Markus Howard traded 3-pointers, and Jokic hit a turnaround jumper to make it 107-103, but Portland responded again. Anthony converted a three-point play, Lillard hit another from behind the arc and Nurkic's three-point play made it 116-103.

Jokic missed on the other end and Nurkic scored off of an offensive rebound to make it 118-103, and the Trail Blazers closed it out.

Anthony heated up in the first quarter, scoring 12 points in five minutes to give Portland a five-point lead. Denver rallied late in the second quarter with a 15-4 run to go ahead 57-51 and led 61-58 at halftime.

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