Michael Porter Jr’s three pointer with 93 seconds left in the second overtime helped the Denver Nuggets squelch an epic comeback by the Portland Trail Blazers with a 147-140 win in game five of the playoff series.
The Nuggets won despite Damian Lillard’s franchise playoff record 55 points.
Lillard scored 17 of Portland’s 19 points in the two overtimes, but he didn’t score again after his 12th three pointer in 17 attempts put the Blazers ahead 140-138 with three minutes and 47 seconds left.
And his teammates didn’t score again, either.
“It was the best playoff performance I’ve ever seen,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said.
“He gave it his all. He made a lot of shots. Look, he gave it his all.
“We’re all disappointed. I have empathy for Dame. I have empathy for anybody on our team. But now’s not the time for empathy. Now’s the time to regroup and come back and get game six. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”
Nikola Jokic, who scored 38 points and came one assist shy of a triple double, tied it at 140 with a layup and Porter broke the tie with a three from the left corner.
The Blazers still were within three points until a pair of costly mistakes sent them back to Portland for game six trailing the Nuggets 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
First, Robert Covington missed a dunk with 41 seconds left and then CJ McCollum stepped out of bounds with 9.1 seconds left and Lillard setting up for another three.
Monte Morris, who scored 28 points off the bench, hit a pair of free throws with 8.8 seconds to seal it, and Shaq Harrison added two free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Lillard broke his own franchise scoring record, a 50 point outburst against Oklahoma City on April 23, 2019.
Lillard’s three with three seconds left in regulation tied it at 121.
His three with 6.4 seconds left in the first overtime tied it at 135 and that capped Portland’s comeback from a quick nine point deficit in the extra period after Denver hit a trio of threes.
The Nuggets made three quick threes in the first overtime, two by Morris and another by Austin Rivers, to surge ahead 132-123.
Portland missed its first five long balls in the extra period before Lillard sank three in the final minute to force a second overtime.
By holding on, Denver improved to 187-1 in games since April 2, 2008, in which they led at any point by 22 or more, including the postseason.
“It’s a shame we wasted one of the all-time best performances by not being more supportive of him,” McCollum said.
Despite Portland losing, Lillard’s incredible performance was the talk of NBA Twitter, wowing fellow superstars Kevin Durant and Steph Curry.