Nuggets slow Damian Lillard, eliminate Trail Blazers with gutsy Game 6 win
Overcoming a 3-1 series deficit twice in one postseason builds resilience in a team. The Denver Nuggets showed off theirs Thursday to win a closeout game on the road against an all-time great playoff performer .
Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets finished off Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers with a 126-115 Game 6 victory in Portland to advance to the second round. Jokic scored 27 of his game-high 36 points in the second half as Denver rallied from as many as 14 down. Michael Porter Jr. had 26 points, and Monte Morris added 22 off the bench.
"Nobody can take the fight out of us," Jokic said. "We will just go out there and fight and that's what we have been doing. We're never going to quit. Quit is not in our vocabulary."
Following tonight’s game 6 victory, Coach Michael Malone addressed the media and discussed how his team was able to limit @Dame_Lillard down the stretch. #MileHighBasketballpic.twitter.com/66p9dA86L2
Coming off an historic 55-point outing in Game 5, Lillard led Portland again Thursday with 28 points and 13 assists. He couldn't find the same zone, though, and shot 8-of-20 from the field, including 3-of-11 from 3-point range. Lillard appeared gassed in the fourth quarter when he was limited to just five points on 1-of-6 shooting.
"We didn't do what was necessary to win the series," Lillard said. "We've got to keep fighting, keep working and keep coming back to battle. Regardless of how it ended, we are always going to have our heads held high, have class. They won, congratulations to them, but it's back to the drawing board to us."
OUSTED: Booker torches Lakers as Suns eliminate defending champs
PLAYOFF SCHEDULE: Matchups, results, game times, TV information
The Blazers led 68-61 at halftime and pushed the lead to as many as 14 points multiple times in the third quarter. They took a 91-77 lead on a C.J. McCollum bucket with 5:42 left, but the Nuggets rallied to within 101-98 by the end of the quarter.
Denver then took control in the fourth and outscored Portland 28-14 to pull away.
"I think we've shown as a group that every time we hit adversity, most times, we never run from it," said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. "We buckle down, we embrace it, we find a way."
The Nuggets will face the Phoenix Suns in the second round beginning Monday. The Suns also advanced Thursday after closing out the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6.
State of the series: Nuggets win 4-2.
Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets will face the Suns in the second round. (Photo: Troy Wayrynen, USA TODAY Sports)
Suns 113, Lakers 100
Devin Booker and the upstart Suns sent the defending champs home early with a huge closeout win in Game 6. Booker poured in 47 points, including 22 in the first quarter, and shot an efficient 15-of-22 overall and 8-of-10 from 3-point range. Phoenix took control in the first quarter and led 36-14 after one. The Suns didn't let up and shot 50.7% from the field overall and 18-of-35 (51.4%) on 3s. LeBron James led the Lakers with 29 points. However, Anthony Davis played just five minutes after returning to the lineup and aggravating a groin injury.
State of the series: Suns win 4-2.
Devin Booker drops an #NBAPlayoffs career-high 47 PTS (33 in 1st half), 8 3PM, helping the @Suns advance! #ThatsGame
PHX will take on DEN in the West Semis with Game 1 on Monday at 10pm/et on TNT. pic.twitter.com/PHE5Og3njM
Here's where the rest of the playoff field stands entering Friday:
Clippers vs. Mavericks
Luka Doncic and the Mavericks seized momentum early in the series, then let the Clippers take it away, only to regain it with a pivotal Game 5 win. Doncic showed he can excel through mistakes and lingering ailments with 42 points and 14 assists to put Dallas on the verge of reaching the second round for the first time since 2011. Los Angeles fell on its face with a chance to take control of the series and now sits one more loss away from a disastrous first-round exit after entering the playoffs as a title favorite.
State of the series: Mavericks lead 3-2. Game 6 is Friday in Dallas (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
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