Damian Lillard scored 55 points and made an NBA playoff record 12 3-pointers in the Portland Trail Blazers’ double-overtime defeat to the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 on Tuesday night, in one of the most thrilling postseason performances ever.
Lillard hit a career-high 12 3-pointers in the NBA playoffs, including game-tying shots to force OT and double OT, and scored 55 points on 17-of-24 shooting. Klay Thompson’s single-game playoff record of 11 was broken when he made 12 of 17 from three. He also had six rebounds and ten assists.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts stated, “It was the finest playoff effort I’ve ever seen.” “He gave it everything he had.”
However, it wasn’t enough to beat a Denver squad that led by as many as 22 points in the second quarter. Nikola Jokic got 38 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists, while Monte Morris came off the bench to score 28 points. In the two overtime sessions, Jokic and Morris combined for 16 of Denver’s 26 points.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone stated, “We never hung our heads.” “We never let ourselves down. We got up every time they launched a haymaker and threw us into the canvas.”
With 3 minutes, 47 seconds left in double overtime, Lillard blasted a sequence of long step-back jumpers to keep the Blazers in the game.
After a review reversed a foul on a three that would’ve given Lillard three free throws, he made one to tie the game with 3.7 seconds left in regulation.
With 6.6 seconds remaining in the first overtime, he sank another over the 6-foot-10 opponent. To force a second extra session, Michael Porter Jr. tied the score once more. In the last two minutes, Lillard sparked a nine-point rally.
The Blazers’ other four starters all scored in double digits, but Lillard carried the team down the stretch. He scored or assisted on 37 of the Blazers’ last 42 points, giving him a total of 80 points in the game, which was tied for the most in NBA postseason history. Lillard’s 55 points rank third all-time in a playoff defeat.
With approximately three minutes left in the second overtime, Lillard curled off a high screen, moved to his left, and hauled down a relatively open 3. It clipped the front of the rim, bounced off the backboard, and landed in Porter’s palms. But over to the side, Austin Rivers, Lillard’s defender, clasped his hands together, gazed up to the sky, and whispered, “Thank God.”
Lillard had a big bounce-back game after scoring 10 points on 1-of-10 shooting in Game 4, but the Blazers blasted away Denver thanks to a solid defensive effort and balanced scoring. Lillard and Jokic traded points in crunch time, with Lillard scoring or helping on 22 of Portland’s 26 points and Jokic scoring or assisting on 22 of Denver’s 31.
Lillard was held to a degree by the Nuggets in the waning minutes, with his final basket giving Portland a two-point lead with 3:47 remaining. Porter followed up a Jokic layup with the game-winning shot; a corner 3 set up by Jokic to give the Nuggets a three-point edge. Porter responded with a strong game, scoring 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting after being challenged by Malone before the game.
On Thursday, the series moves to Portland for Game 6.
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