Lillard found a challenge tonight. He created a LOT of fun.
But the victory proved elusive.
Although Lillard scored 55 points and forced multiple overtime with 3 points in the closing seconds of a period, the Nuggets beat Portland 147-140 in double overtime in Game 5 on Wednesday.
Denver took a 14-1 lead and 22 points early in the second quarter. Lillard (the first player with 55 points and 10 assists in a playoff game) brought the Trail Blazers back in touch.
Denver led by four and had the ball with 20 seconds left in regulation. Lillard helped a CJ McCollum 3 points then, after the Nuggets have made a pair of free throws, hit the 3 point tie:
Denver led by eight with just over a minute to go in first overtime. Lillard brought the Trail Blazers back, hitting another 3-pointer:
The Nuggets finally went ahead in earnest in double overtime, when Nikola Jokic (38 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four blocks) made this brilliant pass for a 3-point par Michael Porter Jr. (26 points and 12 rebounds):
Teams in Denver’s position in a best-of-seven series – holding the field advantage, with a 3-2 lead in a Road 6 game – have won the series 90 percent of the time, including 51 percent of the time. time in Game 6. Nuggets -Trail Blazers Game 6 is Thursday in Portland.
However, the Trail Blazers have experience in this situation. They fell behind 3-2 in a second-round series against Denver in 2019, then won two straight games – including Game 7 on the road – to advance.
Shorthanded with Jamal Murray, Will barton and PJ Dozier Injured, Denver again got key contributions from less advertised guards tonight. Monte Morris (28 points, five assists and no turnovers in 41 minutes) was both his usual regular self and very impactful. Austin Rivers (18 points and seven assists in 47 minutes) pulled off big shots.
Lillard did not get that kind of help from her support cast. Especially in overtime:
Truly, Lillard’s brilliance contrasted sharply with his teammates throughout the game. He is beautiful:
12 out of 17 out of 3 points (71% against 29% for teammates)
5 out of 7 out of 2 points (71% against 44% for teammates)
9 out of 10 on free throws (90% vs. 84% for teammates)
Lillard’s 12 3-pointers set a one-game playoff record (leading 11 Klay thompson made in Game 6 of the 2016 Warriors-Thunder Western Conference Finals).
Only five players – Michael Jordan (twice), Elgin Baylor, Donovan mitchell, Charles Barkley and Wilt Chamberlain – topped Lillard’s 55 points in a playoff game. Rick Barry, Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan on three other occasions also scored 55 points in a playoff game.
Whatever numbers you put in it, Lillard was absolutely amazing. His performance must be cherished.
We should appreciate that Lillard embraces his situation in Portland and does all he can – sometimes even more than meets the eye – to lead his team to victory.
Even if he just arrives short.
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