After Game 6 on Thursday and Friday night in Oregon, in front of a hostile crowd, Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets won the right to play a Western Conference semifinal, for the third season in a row, against the Phoenix Suns, who offered the luxury of eliminating the Los Angeles Lakers, defending champions (113-100 in Game 6). Damian Lillard, who finished the game with 28 points and 13 assists, and Portland are on vacation, as for part of the game they controlled their opponent, even taking a fourteen-point lead in the third quarter.
Everything seemed to be rolling for Portland, including the performance of his interior Jusuf Nurkic, who was asked to defend on Jokic and especially to avoid fouls, since he had been ejected very quickly from three of the first five matches. Nurkic did not commit a fault in the first half, but was caught by his demons afterwards: he took four very quickly in the third quarter, was called back on the bench, which made the task of Portland coach Terry Stotts.
Nikola Jokic woke up …
It must be said that Denver, badly embarked in the first half, despite the 22 points of Michael Porter Jr in the first quarter, had returned to the locker room frustrated and led (68-61). But came out in a whole new state of mind. The awakening of Nikola Jokic (36 points including 30 in the second part, 8 rebounds, 6 assists), again become Nurkic’s nightmare, a devastating Monte Harris out of the bench (22 points including 3/6 to 3 points) and defensive efforts by Facundo Campazzo on Lillard gave a new dimension to combat. Denver was catching up, and Portland was going to collapse in the last quarter (14-28).
“We didn’t do what was necessary to win this series, recognized a frustrated Lillard. We must continue to fight, to work, to come back to the battle. They won, congratulations, but we have to get back to work. «
As for the Nuggets, the season continues, to the delight of Jokic who will now challenge the Phoenix Suns. « No one can stop us from fighting, he assured. We are in the field, we fight, that’s what we have always done. We never give up, giving up is not part of our vocabulary. «