Multiple times in Game 5, the Nuggets looked like they were running away with the contest but Damian Lillard, with his superhuman performance, ensured the Portland Trail Blazers were always in it.
He finished the game with 55 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, and three blocks on 17-of-24 shooting from the field, and yet it was the Nuggets who came away with the 147-140 victory in double overtime.
While giving props to Lillard, calling him superhuman, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was proud of his team's fight to overcome that magnificent showcase.
"We never hung our heads. We never got down on ourselves," Malone said postgame.
Head coach Michael Malone kept his composure because he knew his players left everything on the floor.@nuggets | #MileHighBasketball | #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/YV882jB2Qx- AltitudeTV (@AltitudeTV) June 2, 2021
Early on, Denver was up 22 points (54-32) with about seven minutes left in the second quarter but the Trail Blazers fought back to bring it to within three by halftime.
After a back-and-forth third quarter, the hosts seemed like they were breaking free again when they led 105-98 with 7:32 left in the game but Lillard dialed up 'Dame Time' and forced overtime by scoring 14 of the Trail Blazers' final 16 points including the clutch triple.
Damian Lillard's OT-forcing triple is the #CloroxClutch play of the night! pic.twitter.com/93pgga5QDZ- NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2021
In the extra session, Denver scorched off to an 11-2 run but again Lillard spoiled the party by scoring 12 straight including the clutch triple to force double-overtime. On their fourth attempt, however, the Nuggets didn't cough up the lead and held on for the victory by outscoring the Trail Blazers 12-5 in the second extra session.
"It was a pleasure to be on the court to witness that." Jokic said postgame, reacting to Lillard's heroics.
Nikola Jokic and CJ McCollum reflect on Damian Lillard's incredible shot-making and historic performance. #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/7Vv10K4d7J- NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2021
Despite his humility, Jokic had a stellar game himself to finish with 38 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four blocks, but he received plenty of help. The duo of Monte Morris and Michael Porter Jr. combined for 54 points on 17-of-31 shooting from the field.
It was his late triple from the corner, the final field goal of the game, that capped off Porter Jr.'s bounce-back game after only attempting three field goals in a Game 4 blowout loss.
"Michael's way too talented of a player to have two games like that back to back," Malone said postgame of Porter Jr. "We looked to get it to him in the post tonight, run more actions for him."
Despite all the adrenaline and different storylines out of this one, the on-court action starts afresh with Game 6 after just a day off. Fortunately, for the Nuggets, they'll be carrying a 3-2 series lead with them, while the Trail Blazers will look to extend the series and avoid elimination.
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