LOS ANGELES, USA – CJ McCollum fired 20 points as the Portland Trail Blazers held off a late rally from the Denver Nuggets to score a series-levelling victory in their NBA Western Conference playoff duel on Wednesday, May 1 (Thursday, May 2, Manila time).
McCollum led the scorers in a hard-fought 97-90 victory on the road at Denver’s Pepsi Center to tie the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
Portland talisman Damian Lillard had a relatively quiet night, restricted to just 14 points after shooting 5-of-17 from the field.
However, double-digit contributions from Enes Kanter, Zach Collins, Rodney Hood and Al-Farouq Aminu helped Portland get over the line.
The Blazers had looked to be cruising towards a comfortable victory after a dominant first half, surging into a 50-35 lead at the break.
Portland had opened up a 17-point lead early in the 3rd quarter, and led by 14 heading into the final period.
That, however, was the cue for a sustained Denver assault, with the Nuggets slowly chipping away at the Portland lead.
A driving layup from Nikola Jokic put Denver within 5 points at 95-90 with 34 seconds left on the clock.
But a foul by Mason Plumlee gifted two free throws to Hood, who coolly drained both attempts to take the Blazers 97-90 clear with 17 seconds remaining.
Jokic led the Denver scorers with 16 points while Jamal Murray added 15. Paul Millsap finished with 14 points.
Game 3 takes place in Portland on Friday. – Rappler.com