DENVER — On Damian Lillard’s record-breaking night time when he was hitting one shot after one other from behind the arc and virtually past perception, it was Michael Porter Jr. who quietly sank the most important basket of all.
MPJ’s 3-pointer from the left nook barely fluttered the online with 1:33 left within the second additional time and proved the game-winner because the Denver Nuggets squelched an epic comeback by the Portland Trail Blazers with a 147-140 win Tuesday night time in Game 5 of their best-of-seven playoff sequence.
“That’s what playoff basketball is,” Porter mentioned after the thriller that included a dozen lead adjustments and 11 ties, together with lengthy 3s by Lillard that compelled additional time and the second OT.
Lillard’s night time included a franchise playoff file 55 factors and NBA playoff file 12 3-pointers. He eclipsed the mark of 11 set by Golden State’s Klay Thompson at Oklahoma City on May 28, 2016.
“It was the best playoff performance I’ve ever seen,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts mentioned.
“At this point, all that matters is we can’t lose another game in the series,” Lillard shrugged.
And he, for one, isn’t going to dwell on his huge night time and even larger letdown.
“If I don’t put it behind me, and hold onto it, it’s going to get in the way of what we need to do in the next one,” Lillard mentioned.
Lillard scored 17 of Portland’s 19 factors within the two overtimes, however he didn’t rating once more after his twelfth 3-pointer in 17 makes an attempt put the Blazers forward 140-138 with 3:47 left.
And his teammates didn’t rating once more, both.
Nikola Jokic, who scored 38 factors and got here one help shy of a triple-double, tied it at 140 with a layup and Porter broke the tie with a 3 from the left nook with 1:33 left off a candy cross from Jokic.
The Blazers nonetheless had been inside three factors — and Lillard’s vary — till a pair of expensive errors despatched them again to Portland for Game 6 on Thursday night time trailing the Nuggets 3-2 within the best-of-seven sequence.
First, Robert Covington missed a dunk with 41 seconds left after which CJ McCollum stepped out of bounds with 9.1 seconds left and Lillard organising for one more 3.
“It’s a shame we wasted one of the all-time best performances by not being more supportive of him,” McCollum mentioned.
(*55*) Morris, who scored 28 factors 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’s 3-pointer with three seconds left in regulation tied it at 121, capping a 22-point comeback. His 3 with 6.4 seconds left within the first additional time tied it at 135 and that capped Portland’s comeback from a fast nine-point deficit within the additional interval after Denver hit a trio of 3s.
“We won and lost that game so many times before ultimately winning it,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone mentioned. ”… We by no means obtained down. Every time they threw a haymaker and obtained us down on the canvas, we obtained up and had been in a position to pull it out ultimately.”
Porter, who completed with 26 factors, mentioned it wasn’t onerous to hold composed when Lillard saved hitting daggers to prolong the sport.
“It was 0-0. We knew there was only 5 minutes. We knew we couldn’t hang our heads,” Porter mentioned. “It was a big game and we needed it.”
When Jokic’s precision cross discovered Porter within the left nook within the second additional time, “I said I’ve got to make up for that buzzer beater than Dame hit. I got to make up for it,” Porter recounted.
He certain did, and by holding on, Denver improved to 187-1 in video games since April 2, 2008, by which they led at any level by 22 or extra, together with the postseason.
Jokic, who added 11 rebounds and 9 assists, was amazed by Lillard’s efficiency.
“It was a pleasure to be on the court,” he mentioned, “just to witness that.”