The Portland Trail Blazers did just enough to get the win, squeezing out a quadruple-overtime epic over the Denver Nuggets.
One of the greatest games in NBA history essentially ended with Nikola Jokic splitting a pair of free throws, missing a chance to force a fifth overtime and sending the Nuggets home in defeat. As one of the longest playoffs games ever, the box score here is incredible, loaded with oddities, including so Jokic playing so many minutes that he forced a reset on the minutes’ count.
Portland won. Denver lost. Everyone deserves some rest after this one.
Are the Nuggets going to wear out Nikola Jokic? He was spectacular in this game, totaling 33 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists, shooting 13-of-25 from the field. His 24 second-half points were the major reason the Nuggets were able to force the first overtime. But he also crossed the 40-minute threshold in regulation, something he didn’t do even once during the regular season and has now done three times in the postseason. On the first defensive possession of overtime, Lillard beat him off the dribble and Jokic wrapped his arms around Lillard’s chest, a foul of utter exhaustion that easily could have been ruled a flagrant. With 1:18 left and the score tied, Jokic forced a pass across the court that was stolen and one overtime stretched into four. And then he played three more overtime periods, without a rest. Jokic set a record for the most minutes played by a 7-footer in NBA history. He has been the best of the Nuggets in these playoffs but Denver might be using him up.
CJ McCollum and Rodney Hood did their best Damian Lillard impression. Lillard played 58 minutes and totaled 28 points but it was Hood and McCollum who delivered the knockout blows for Portland. McCollum delivered 41 points and hit several huge buckets to keep Portland from washing out. As overtime periods began to bleed together, Hood came off the bench with confidence and fresh legs to finish the job. He was 3-of-3 in the final overtime, including a huge 3-point bucket that put Portland over the top.
This game was won on the margins. It’s the nature of any game played for 48 minutes that ends with both teams having scored an identical number of points. Tack another 15 minutes and the score is still tied? Forget about parsing offensive rebounds, turnovers, and 3-point shooting numbers. Both teams could have won this game, several times over. Tonight, the basketball gods favored the Trail Blazers.