Blazers shoot way to Mile High win

Three-point barrage leads to 123-109 playoff victory

Staff Report
May 23, 2021

Damian Lillard stalked the court like he had an axe to grind.

Or maybe it was a stake, like the one he drove home Saturday night late in the fourth quarter of Portland's Game 1 win of its NBA Playoff Series against the Denver Nuggets. Lillard’s fifth 3-pointer gave the Blazers a comfortable double-digit cushion, and Portland cruised from there, winning 123-109 to take a 1-0 lead in this first-round series.

Portland rained in 19-of-40 3-pointers Saturday night, including 12 combined from Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Denver's public enemy No. 1 Carmelo Anthony.

“Too many breakdowns,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said to media later. “To win a playoff game, especially when you’re undermanned, you have to be on-point with everything. … Guys played hard, but we have to play a lot smarter.”

Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. led Denver. Jokic finished with 34 points on 14-of-27 from the field. Porter added 25 points, but was just 1-of-10 from 3-point range.

Portland’s bench had a 34-20 edge.

The Nuggets got invaluable buckets from complementary players Facundo Campazzo, Austin Rivers and Aaron Gordon yet they couldn’t keep a lid on Lillard and McCollum in the third quarter. Portland’s backcourt duo connected on four 3-pointers, including one from Lillard with only 1.8 seconds left in the quarter. Despite a torrent of 3s, layups and jumpers from Jokic, Lillard’s signature shot gave the Blazers a 96-86 lead heading into the fourth.