64933

How the Nuggets silenced the Blazers in thrilling Game 6 win: “I love our team”

TODAY

PORTLAND, Ore. – When Michael Porter Jr. checked out of Thursday’s decisive Game 6 with the game tied at 108 and half the fourth quarter left, he had no idea that was the last he’d see of the Blazers.

“I told coach, I think I came out with five, six minutes left, I saw what (JaMychal Green) was doing out there, I was like, ‘Man, let him rock,’” Porter said after the Nuggets salted away their 126-115 win, sending Portland into the offseason.

At the time, little did Porter know that the Nuggets would close the game on an 18-7 run, snuffing the Blazers’ chances with suffocating defense and fearless, downhill scoring. But by volunteering his minutes to Green, who finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, Porter enjoyed a different vantage point.

Porter, whose six first-quarter 3-pointers tied an NBA playoff record dating back to 1997, became part of the Nuggets’ rowdy bench mob. When Monte Morris probed left and kicked it to Austin Rivers for a cold-blooded 3-pointer with 3:51 remaining, Portland called timeout, desperate to grasp at their fleeting season.

Up 117-108, Porter and injured guard Will Barton skipped to midcourt like school children eager to celebrate Rivers’ dagger. As the Nuggets were mounting their comeback, calmly weathering a 14-point third-quarter deficit, there was perhaps no one better to monitor than Barton. The former Trail Blazer missed all of last year’s playoffs with a knee injury and has yet to play this postseason, but was as demonstrative and engaged as anyone on the bench.

He, Jamal Murray and P.J. Dozier — ’s all-infirmary squad — stood on the edge of the court, dancing and jawing with Portland’s crowd after each clutch basket.

Nikola Jokic, whose 27-point second half lifted his beleaguered team into the second round of the playoffs, wouldn’t divulge Barton’s secrets.

“I don’t want to say what Will was saying because I just don’t want to,” Jokic said. “ … He’s a funny guy.”

But Barton saved his best dances for Morris, who poured in 16 of his 22 points in the second half.

“Will, he talks to me during the whole game,” Morris said. “… I think I had like seven, eight points at the time, he was like, ‘Yo, you get 20, we’re gonna win.’ I was like, ‘Alright.’”

Barton, Morris suggested, tends to say all kinds of nonsense during games. By now, the heady guard knows what to listen to and what to dismiss.

As Morris jitterbugged through the lane with 5:07 left, burying one of his patented floaters, Barton stood up, arms raised and started spinning around the opposite baseline. He and Murray soaked in the deafening silence while Barton’s premonition started to become a reality.

As pleased as the Nuggets were to snatch Game 6, there was nothing sentimental about winning a first-round series. Not with the expectations this team set for itself at the beginning of the season.

“Our goal coming into the season was not to get out of the first round,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We have much bigger goals.”

The Nuggets approached Thursday’s elimination game as if they could taste their offseason, not the other way around. They had a healthy fear of Damian Lillard, and didn’t want to tempt fate with a potential do-or-die game against one of the most ruthless scorers in the NBA. After all, they’d already had a 2-1 lead earlier in this series and squandered it with an abysmal showing in Game 4.

“Nobody’s trying to see Damian Lillard, one of the clutchest players ever, Game 7,” said Porter, who might as well have been speaking for the team.

Instead, the Nuggets survived Jokic’s early foul trouble with Porter’s audacious 3-point shooting, then rode their superstar most of the second half. The recipe wasn’t complicated.

“Getting stops and then Nikola Jokic,” Porter said.

But in truth, the Nuggets knocked off the Blazers because of Jokic’s offensive genius, Morris’ steady demeanor, Green’s tenacity, clutch shooting from Rivers and Aaron Gordon, and on down the list. It didn’t matter that their rookie point guard, Facundo Campazzo, got himself into foul trouble. Morris, the Game 5 hero, was more than capable of serving up his teammates, finishing with nine assists, and drilling clutch shots.

No matter who Malone plugged into the game, if nothing else, he was assured those players would compete.

“I love our team,” Malone said. “I love every player in that locker room, one through 17. We continue to find ways to win.”

dp news breaking?d=yIl2AUoC8zA - How the Nuggets silenced the Blazers in thrilling Game 6 win: “I love our team” dp news breaking?d=dnMXMwOfBR0 - How the Nuggets silenced the Blazers in thrilling Game 6 win: “I love our team” dp news breaking?d=7Q72WNTAKBA - How the Nuggets silenced the Blazers in thrilling Game 6 win: “I love our team” dp news breaking?i=yUPlde6ZU4U:oT9jkyT2H5c:V sGLiPBpWU - How the Nuggets silenced the Blazers in thrilling Game 6 win: “I love our team” dp news breaking?d=qj6IDK7rITs - How the Nuggets silenced the Blazers in thrilling Game 6 win: “I love our team”

yUPlde6ZU4U - How the Nuggets silenced the Blazers in thrilling Game 6 win: “I love our team”

Latest Post