Nikola Jokic finished with 36 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead the Denver Nuggets to a series-clinching 126-115 victory over the host Portland Trail Blazers in Game 6 of their Western Conference playoff matchup on Thursday night.
The Nuggets rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to win the series, 4-2, advancing to the second round for the third consecutive season. Denver will face either the Phoenix Suns or the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round.
The Blazers were eliminated in the first round for the second consecutive season and for the fourth time in the past five seasons.
Damian Lillard led Portland with 28 points and 13 assists, but he couldn't follow up his epic shooting performance in Game 5, shooting only 3-for-11 from 3-point range on Thursday.
Denver, which is now 2-2 all-time in playoff series against Portland, avenged a seven-game series loss to the Blazers in 2019.
The Nuggets capped the victory with a 17-2 run to take a 119-108 lead with 3:20 left.
Lillard answered with five consecutive points, before Jokic answered with a cut to the basket with 1:37 left to extend Denver's lead back to eight. Jokic scored all of his points over the final three quarters. Jokic was often defended by Jusuf Nurkic, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Aaron Gordon's 3-pointer with 52.7 seconds left gave Denver a 124-115 edge and effectively sealed the outcome. Gordon totaled 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Denver never led in the second and third quarters and finally took the lead again, 102-101, with 10:10 left in the fourth.
Michael Porter Jr. hit his first six shots, including his first five from 3-point range. Porter scored 22 of the Nuggets' first 27 points and finished with 26 points.
Monte Morris totaled 22 points and nine assists, and JaMychal Green had 10 points and nine rebounds off Denver's bench. Facundo Campazzo finished with 10 points.
For Portland, CJ McCollum finished with 21 points and Norman Powell totaled 17. Robert Covington recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.