After losing a four-overtime thriller less than 48 hours earlier, the Denver Nuggets somehow mustered up the mental and physical energy to come out and take Game 4 off the Blazers, 116-112, on Sunday to send the series back to Denver for Game 5 tied 2-2.
Jamal Murray came up big with 34 points to lead all scorers, while Nikola Jokic posted his fourth triple-double of the postseason with a 21-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist performance. Will Barton came up big with two key 3-pointers during the last three minutes of the game to help preserve the Nuggets’ lead.
The Nuggets rode a huge third-quarter performance in which they outscored the Blazers 27-14 while holding Portland to 5-of-18 shooting from the field in the period. Here are four major takeaways from Denver’s Game 4 victory:
What a response by Denver
For the Nuggets to lose the way they did in Game 3, in four overtimes, to come back mentally and physically and win what was pretty much a must-win game, on the road, was just about as impressive as it gets. All year long Denver was one of the best back-to-back teams in the NBA, and Mike Malone has talked about their mental toughness and ability to focus on the task at hand. That is what you call a signature maturation point for a young team. Winning that game, no matter how this series turns out, is such a giant building block for a team that is going to be a factor in the Western Conference for years to come.
Jamal Murray has arrived
Murray went for 34 points in Game 4 and sunk six straight free throws — and we’re talking absolutely nothing but net in extremely tight situations — down the stretch to keep Portland at bay and secure this victory. That’s two straight games of 30-plus points for Murray. The last Nuggets player to do that in the playoffs was Carmelo Anthony in 2010. You knew it was going to be a good night for Murray when this was his first shot of the game:
A big win in this series is Murray flat out going head to head with Damian Lillard and more than holding his own. Through four games, here are the numbers:
- Murray: 26.5 PPG on 45-percent shooting
- Lillard: 27 PPG on 43-percent shooting
Denver will take that all day.
This Nikola Jokic dude
Jokic played 65 minutes in Denver’s Game 3 loss. Less than 48 hours later, with everyone questioning what kind of shape he was in and whether he’d be able to breathe in this Game 4, all he did was go out and put up another triple-double: 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists on 8-of-15 shooting. That’s Jokic’s fourth triple-double of these playoffs. Not bad company:
The Jokic-Murray two-man game is turning devastating. Not only is Jokic an otherworldly passer, but he’s such a great screener and his patience as a playmaker is under-discussed next to the flare of his passing. He made probably the biggest play in the game late in the fourth quarter by finding Gary Harris on a cut for an and-one with barely a nanosecond left on the shot clock. Portland was down three at that point and charging. You think about closers as guys hitting shots, but Jokic can close with his passing and his offensive rebounding just as well.
Both these teams are fighting like hell on the offensive glass and are securing a lot of extra possessions, but Denver is really getting the best of this battle right now. The Nuggets had 17 more offensive boards in Game 4. That’s 71 for the series — an average of almost 18 per game. That is crazy. This is where the Blazers are REALLY missing Jusuf Nurkic. Enes Kanter is doing everything he can but the Nuggets are just bigger and quicker to the ball. You keep giving an elite offensive team — which the Nuggets are — extra possessions, you are going to have a hard time winning. In Game 4, that was certainly the case for Portland.
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How to watch Game 5
- Date: Tuesday, May 7
- Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Pepsi Center — Denver
- TV channel: TNT
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Online streaming: fuboTV (try it for free)
- Odds: N/A
Odds and Analysis
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