The third-seeded Denver outplayed their sixth-seeded opponents in the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 to even the series up at 1-1 with a statement 128-109 victory.
After trailing 5-2 early, the Nuggets responded with a 10-0 run and took the lead. Backed by the loud crowd at the Ball Arena, they never let go of the lead for the rest of the game and at one point, led by as many as 23 as All-Stars Nikola Jokic and Damian Lillard traded buckets.
As the series shifts to Portland for the next two games, here's a quick look at the biggest takeaways from this one:
Jokic leads bounce-back game for Nuggets offence
While the Trail Blazers still kept a cap on Jokic's playmaking, keeping him to four assists after holding him to one in Game 1, they had no answer for his scoring.
Coming off 34 in Game 1, the Serbian center finished this one with 38 points on an impeccable 15-of-20 shooting from the field.
Nikola Jokic is averaging 36 PPG on 61.7% shooting this series. pic.twitter.com/yUIuMtO1m5- StatMuse (@statmuse) May 25, 2021
He was one of six players to finish in double figures for the Nuggets, who shot 46-of-86 (53.5 percent) from the field and 12-of-28 (42.9 percent) from long distance. For comparison, Denver shot 11-of-36 on 3-pointers in Game 1.
Jokic not only ensured that the team's offence was rolling but also played his part on the other end as Denver put the clamps on Portland's offence, the second-best in the league.
Lillard balls out
Coming off 34 points and 13 assists, Lillard put on a show once again but nearly all of his 42 points and 10 assists in Game 2 came in the first half.
He had 32 points in the first half which included eight 3-pointers, which tied Vince Carter's record for most 3s in a half in a playoff game.
With 8 triples at halftime, Damian Lillard has tied Vince Carter's all-time #NBAPlayoffs record for threes in a half.- NBA History (@NBAHistory) May 25, 2021
Carter hit 8 threes in the first half on May 11, 2001. pic.twitter.com/u0e0aywx9g
Of the 32, 22 came in the second quarter when the Trail Blazers responded to the Nuggets' early punches and came back into the game with a 24-10 run.
CJ McCollum and Norman Powell combined for 36 points on 14-of-21 shooting from the field but with Lillard cooling down in the second half - only 2-of-9 from the field and one 3-pointer, Portland had nobody leading them late to spark a comeback run.
As a team, they turned the ball over 20 times and were outscored by 22 (54-32) in the paint, a category they ranked dead last during the regular season.
Reserves Morris, Millsap outscore counterparts
In Game 1, the Nuggets bench was outscored 34-20 but with the shots not falling for Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons in Game 2, the Trail Blazers bench only managed 21 points
This time around in Game 2, the duo of Monte Morris and Paul Millsap alone scored 27 for Denver.
Morris chipped in with 12 points and seven assists in 30 minutes while Millsap finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists in just 15 minutes of action.
Put the brakes on pic.twitter.com/aThSfHmtw5- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 25, 2021
Facu Campazzo puts on a show
As they evened the series up at 1-1, the Nuggets provided plenty of entertainment with plenty of highlights, from dunks to fancy dimes to steals, but Facundo Campazzo had the game's best play.
The 5'10" put his playmaking skills on full display with this sharp nutmeg assist to Jokic.
Campazzo gets crafty to set up Jokic late in the @nuggets series-tying win. #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/NTKiKcB9gy- NBA (@NBA) May 25, 2021
The series now shifts Northwest to Portland. Both teams have a couple of days off before the Game 3 tips-off at 8:00 a.m. IST on Friday, May 28.
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