Wow. That’s the only word I can use to describe today’s game between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Northwest division rivals, who seem to relish playing against each other, put in an extremely entertaining show in their latest clash in Portland.
The Nuggets, who entered the fourth quarter down 10 points, used a big run to take a 105-104 lead with 6:33 left on the block, but it seemed like Damian Lillard always had an answer for them. Lillard scored 12 points after the Nuggets took that lead, continually bringing the advantage back to Portland, and it even looked like he may have hit another signature ‘Dame Time’ moment after hitting a huge three-pointer with 8.8 seconds left in the game to give the Blazers a 120-118 lead.
That basket gave Lillard his final statline of 40 points, four rebounds, 12 assists and two steals on 12 of 22 shooting (9 of 17 from three). However, as everyone knows, 9.1 seconds is an eternity in the NBA, especially since the Nuggets still had a timeout.
Enter Jamal Murray, who had been struggling from the field all night but came alive in the fourth quarter. After getting the ball on the inbounds play, the Canadian guard ran down the clock and then took a tough stepback three with 0.9 seconds left that broke the hearts of all the Blazers fans in the stadium. The Blazers weren’t able to get a final shot off after using their last timeout.
What’s even more impressive is that Murray had the confidence to take that shot after struggling from the field the whole night. He finished the game with 21 points, five rebounds, eight assists and a steal but shot atrociously. He made 8 of 21 overall attempts and 3 of 10 threes. That didn’t matter to him though, and it goes to show the type of mentality he has.
Murray’s game winner rewarded the efforts of Nikola Jokic, who put on another MVP-worthy line of 33 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and a block while shooting 14 of 25 from the field. The reigning MVP was ever-present in that Nuggets run, too, and he made three go-ahead buckets of his own in the final 6:33 of the game.
We’ve been conditioned to believe in ‘Dame Time’, but for today, it simply wasn’t meant to be. All credit goes to the Nuggets who desperately needed a win after losing three in a row before taking on the Blazers. The win put their record at 15-10, adding a little bit of padding to their lead over the Sacramento Kings, who sit in fifth place with a 13-10 record.