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Blazers force Game 7 with 119-108 victory over Denver

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The shots were finally falling for Damian Lillard.

Lillard had 32 points, including 17 in the third quarter, and the Portland Trail Blazers staved off elimination to force a decisive Game 7 in their series with Denver with a 119-108 victory on Thursday night.

Lillard had been fairly quiet for the previous two games in the semifinal series, both Portland losses.

''I think over the course of the series, at least after Game 1, I just haven't seen the ball go in consistently enough,'' Lillard said. ''My job is to stay aggressive, keep doing what I do, and tonight, shots fell.''

The series now shifts to Denver, where the Nuggets will have a chance to make it to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2009. Denver has been to the conference finals three times in franchise history.

The winner of Sunday's game will face the winner of the series between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets. The defending NBA champion Warriors have a 3-2 advantage in the series after a 104-99 victory on Wednesday night. Game 6 is set for Friday in Houston.

CJ McCollum added 30 points for the Blazers, who haven't advanced to the conference finals since the 2000 playoffs. Rodney Hood came off the bench with a career playoff-high 25 points and fans at the Moda Center drowned out his postgame on-court interview by chanting ''Rodney! Rodney!''

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 29 points and 12 rebounds, while Jamal Murray added 24 points and 10 rebounds.

''We'll go back home, regroup, like we did for San Antonio, come back with energy and just be ready to play,'' Murray said.

Seth Curry's 3-pointer gave the Blazers a 101-88 lead with 7:24 left. Things got heated midway through the final period after Jokic was called for an offensive foul and the players got into a shoving match and had to be separated. After a review, there were offsetting technicals involving Denver's Will Barton and Torrey Craig, and Curry and Zach Collins for Portland.

Lillard hit an off-balance jumper that put Portland up 106-93. The Nuggets got within 113-103 with 1:04 left, but Craig and Jokic fouled out and Portland closed out the win.

The Nuggets were in this situation before: They lost on the road to San Antonio in Game 6 in the opening round, forcing that series to return to Denver for the deciding game.

After Portland won the quadruple-overtime marathon of Game 3, Denver beat Portland at home to even the series. Then Paul Millsap had 24 points to spark Denver's 124-98 blowout of the Blazers on Tuesday night - and put Portland on the verge of elimination.

''I thought our Game 6 here in Portland was better than our Game 6 in San Antonio,'' Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. ''Now we go home and have the best home-court advantage in the NBA.''

Denver led by as many as 10 points in the opening quarter but Portland went on an 11-4 run to start the second quarter that closed the gap to 38-37.

After his 3-pointer gave Portland the lead, Lillard added a layup to extend it and Portland led 58-54 at halftime after outscoring the Nuggets 32-20.

Jokic's third-quarter 3-pointer briefly gave the Nuggets a 76-75 lead, but Lillard answered with his own 3 to reclaim it.

Lillard's sixth 3-pointer of the game put Portland up 83-78. He had 17 points in the third quarter alone and the Blazers led 87-80 going into the fourth.

Lillard was reminded after the game that he's never played in a Game 7 in his career.

''It's basically a game where only one team is going to make it out,'' he said. ''It's your last opportunity to play, so facing elimination is what it is to me, and that's going to be my approach, just like it was tonight. The only thing is that it's going to be on the road. It's for our season. All the marbles.''

TIP INS

Nuggets: Denver won the regular-season series against the Blazers 3-1. ... Jokic led all scorers with 16 points in the first half. ... Gary Harris has scored in double figures for nine straight games.

Trail Blazers: Portland went to the playoffs for 21 straight seasons from 1983-2003. ... The Blazers team that last made the conference finals included Scottie Pippen and Arvydas Sabonis. Mike Dunleavy was the coach.

BIG MAN CLUB: Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers' big man who broke his leg late in the season, watched from Portland's bench in the second half. After the game, Jokic took a moment to recognize his former teammate. (Nurkic was traded to the Blazers in 2017).

''I just want to say something: I'm really happy to see Nurk back. I know he had a tough injury, and yes, he was with us and we are rivals, but it's so good to see him walking by himself after such a short period,'' Jokic said.

TAKING A BREAK: The Nuggets took Wednesday night off, and coach Malone and his assistants found a local brewery.

''Enjoyed some of Portland's beer, and just sitting outside and just talking about our team and talking about what's going on back home,'' Malone said. ''Sometimes you have to force yourself to get away from it. It can't be just all the time, you have to find ways to have balance in your life.''

SASSY: Curry used some colorful language after the game in describing the dustup in the fourth quarter, saying he was poked in the eye.

''I can't be allowing people to put fingers in my eye. That was real sassy. Some real sassy dudes over there, some front runners. We can't allow that,'' he said.

UP NEXT

Game 7 is set for Sunday in Denver.

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1st Quarter

Time Team Play Score
12:00   Jumpball  
11:34   Defensive rebound by Gary Harris  
11:19   Bad pass turnover on Nikola Jokic, stolen by Maurice Harkless  
11:16 +2 Maurice Harkless made dunk, assist by Al-Farouq Aminu 0-2
10:57 +2 Torrey Craig made layup, assist by Nikola Jokic 2-2
10:42   Al-Farouq Aminu missed floating jump shot, blocked by Paul Millsap  
10:40   Offensive rebound by Al-Farouq Aminu  
10:35   Out of bounds turnover on Enes Kanter  
10:23   Shooting foul on CJ McCollum  
10:23 +1 Gary Harris made 1st of 2 free throws 3-2
10:23 +1 Gary Harris made 2nd of 2 free throws 4-2
10:09 +3 Al-Farouq Aminu made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Damian Lillard 4-5
9:46   Offensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
9:46 +2 Nikola Jokic made dunk 6-5
9:38   Damian Lillard missed jump shot  
9:36   Defensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
9:20 +2 Jamal Murray made floating jump shot, assist by Nikola Jokic 8-5
9:05   CJ McCollum missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:02   Defensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
8:45   Damian Lillard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:44   Defensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
8:34 +2 Nikola Jokic made jump shot 10-5
8:19   Offensive rebound by Maurice Harkless  
8:15   CJ McCollum missed floating jump shot  
8:11 +2 Enes Kanter made dunk 10-7
8:11   Offensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
7:43   Defensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
7:12   Bad pass turnover on Damian Lillard, stolen by Jamal Murray  
7:08   Torrey Craig missed driving layup  
7:01   Lost ball turnover on Enes Kanter, stolen by Paul Millsap  
6:22 +3 Damian Lillard made 3-pt. jump shot 16-10
6:03   Shooting foul on Maurice Harkless  
6:03 +1 Jamal Murray made 1st of 2 free throws 17-10
6:03 +1 Jamal Murray made 2nd of 2 free throws 18-10
5:48 +2 CJ McCollum made floating jump shot 18-12
5:27   Defensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
5:22   Personal foul on Torrey Craig  
5:12 +2 CJ McCollum made floating jump shot 18-14
5:01   Shooting foul on Al-Farouq Aminu  
5:01 +1 Paul Millsap made 1st of 2 free throws 19-14
5:01 +1 Paul Millsap made 2nd of 2 free throws 20-14
4:47   Defensive rebound by Torrey Craig  
4:33 +2 Paul Millsap made hook shot 22-14
4:13   Damian Lillard missed jump shot, blocked by Torrey Craig  
4:12   POR team rebound  
3:58 +2 Nikola Jokic made floating jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 24-14
3:51   Personal foul on Torrey Craig  
3:33 +2 CJ McCollum made floating jump shot 24-16
3:20   Shooting foul on Rodney Hood  
3:20 +1 Jamal Murray made 1st of 2 free throws 25-16
3:20   Jamal Murray missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
3:18   Defensive rebound by Zach Collins  
3:05 +2 Rodney Hood made driving layup 25-18
2:52   Shooting foul on Rodney Hood  
2:52 +1 Jamal Murray made 1st of 2 free throws 26-18
2:52 +1 Jamal Murray made 2nd of 2 free throws 27-18
2:39   Zach Collins missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:37   POR team rebound  
2:29   POR team rebound  
2:24 +2 Rodney Hood made jump shot, assist by Damian Lillard 27-20
2:10   Jamal Murray missed floating jump shot  
2:07   Defensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
2:00   Rodney Hood missed jump shot  
1:56   Enes Kanter missed dunk  
1:49 +3 Gary Harris made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 30-20
1:24 +3 Rodney Hood made 3-pt. jump shot 30-23
1:00 +2 Nikola Jokic made layup, assist by Gary Harris 32-23
0:45 +3 Damian Lillard made 3-pt. jump shot 32-26
0:31   Jamal Murray missed floating jump shot  
0:28   Defensive rebound by Rodney Hood  
0:09   Shooting foul on Jamal Murray  
0:09   Rodney Hood missed 1st of 2 free throws  
0:09   Rodney Hood missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
0:08   Defensive rebound by Gary Harris  
0:01 +2 Nikola Jokic made jump shot, assist by Will Barton 34-26
0:00   End of period  

2nd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:38 +2 Paul Millsap made driving layup, assist by Will Barton 36-26
11:23 +2 Rodney Hood made turnaround jump shot 36-28
11:23   Shooting foul on Malik Beasley  
11:23 +1 Rodney Hood made free throw 36-29
11:10   Personal foul on Evan Turner  
11:01   Paul Millsap missed hook shot  
10:58   Offensive rebound by Mason Plumlee  
10:51   Offensive rebound by Paul Millsap  
10:48   Malik Beasley missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:46   Defensive rebound by CJ McCollum  
10:37   Shooting foul on Mason Plumlee  
10:37 +1 Zach Collins made free throw 36-32
10:18   Will Barton missed floating jump shot  
10:14 +2 Will Barton made dunk 38-32
10:14   Offensive rebound by Will Barton  
10:01 +3 CJ McCollum made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Evan Turner 38-35
9:47   Monte Morris missed driving layup, blocked by Zach Collins  
9:45   Defensive rebound by Evan Turner  
9:31 +2 Zach Collins made layup, assist by Evan Turner 38-37
9:11   Paul Millsap missed jump shot  
9:00   CJ McCollum missed jump shot  
8:58   Defensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
8:50   Jamal Murray missed jump shot, blocked by Zach Collins  
8:48   Defensive rebound by Zach Collins  
8:39   Defensive rebound by Will Barton  
8:23   Paul Millsap missed floating jump shot  
8:21   Defensive rebound by Evan Turner  
8:10   Defensive rebound by Will Barton  
8:00 +3 Will Barton made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 41-37
7:38 +2 Rodney Hood made turnaround jump shot 41-39
7:22   Malik Beasley missed floating jump shot  
7:18   Offensive rebound by Mason Plumlee  
7:18 +2 Mason Plumlee made dunk 43-39
7:05 +2 CJ McCollum made driving layup 43-41
6:52 +2 Will Barton made jump shot 45-41
6:37   Lost ball turnover on Evan Turner, stolen by Paul Millsap  
6:29   Defensive rebound by Evan Turner  
6:23 +2 CJ McCollum made jump shot 45-43
5:56   Will Barton missed 3-pt. jump shot  
5:55   POR team rebound  
5:38   Personal foul on Nikola Jokic  
5:28   Shooting foul on Will Barton  
5:28 +1 Rodney Hood made 1st of 2 free throws 45-44
5:28 +1 Rodney Hood made 2nd of 2 free throws 45-45
5:18 +2 Nikola Jokic made jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 47-45
5:02 +3 Damian Lillard made 3-pt. jump shot 47-48
4:34   Nikola Jokic missed turnaround jump shot  
4:30   Defensive rebound by Rodney Hood  
4:17 +2 Damian Lillard made reverse layup 47-50
3:54   Offensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
3:47   Offensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
3:47   Jamal Murray missed dunk  
3:39   Defensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
3:34   Personal foul on Will Barton  
3:34 +1 CJ McCollum made 1st of 2 free throws 47-51
3:34 +1 CJ McCollum made 2nd of 2 free throws 47-52
2:57 +3 Zach Collins made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by CJ McCollum 50-55
2:39 +1 Nikola Jokic made 1st of 2 free throws 51-55
2:39 +1 Nikola Jokic made 2nd of 2 free throws 52-55
2:21   POR team rebound  
2:12   Offensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
2:12   Enes Kanter missed dunk  
2:10   Defensive rebound by Paul Millsap  
2:08   Personal foul on Zach Collins  
1:53   Torrey Craig missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:51   Defensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
1:34 +2 Enes Kanter made hook shot, assist by Damian Lillard 52-57
1:20   Nikola Jokic missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:17   Defensive rebound by Zach Collins  
1:08   Damian Lillard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:04   Defensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
0:41   DEN team rebound  
0:42   24-second shot clock violation turnover  
0:33   Damian Lillard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:32   POR team rebound  
0:32   Personal foul on Nikola Jokic  
0:32   Enes Kanter missed 1st of 2 free throws  
0:32   POR team rebound  
0:32 +1 Enes Kanter made 2nd of 2 free throws 52-58
0:16 +2 Nikola Jokic made hook shot, assist by Gary Harris 54-58
0:01   Lost ball turnover on Damian Lillard, stolen by Gary Harris  
0:00   DEN team rebound  
0:00   End of period  

3rd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:37 +2 Jamal Murray made jump shot, assist by Nikola Jokic 56-58
11:20 +2 CJ McCollum made floating jump shot, assist by Damian Lillard 56-60
10:58   Out of bounds turnover on Gary Harris  
10:46   POR team rebound  
10:36   Al-Farouq Aminu missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:26 +2 Gary Harris made driving dunk, assist by Nikola Jokic 58-60
10:09   Personal foul on Paul Millsap  
10:00   Defensive rebound by Gary Harris  
9:56 +3 Gary Harris made 3-pt. jump shot 61-60
9:42 +2 Damian Lillard made jump shot 61-62
9:19   Paul Millsap missed reverse layup  
9:17   Defensive rebound by Maurice Harkless  
9:04 +3 Damian Lillard made 3-pt. jump shot 61-65
8:47   Bad pass turnover on Nikola Jokic, stolen by Maurice Harkless  
8:43   Shooting foul on Gary Harris  
8:43   Al-Farouq Aminu missed 1st of 2 free throws  
8:43   POR team rebound  
8:43 +1 Al-Farouq Aminu made 2nd of 2 free throws 61-66
8:24 +3 Torrey Craig made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Paul Millsap 64-66
8:12   Bad pass turnover on Damian Lillard, stolen by Gary Harris  
8:05   Shooting foul on Al-Farouq Aminu  
8:05 +1 Nikola Jokic made 1st of 2 free throws 65-66
8:05 +1 Nikola Jokic made 2nd of 2 free throws 66-66
7:49 +3 Al-Farouq Aminu made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by CJ McCollum 66-69
7:31   Lost ball turnover on Gary Harris, stolen by Damian Lillard  
7:14   Personal foul on Maurice Harkless  
7:06 +3 Torrey Craig made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Nikola Jokic 69-69
6:47   Personal foul on Gary Harris  
6:40   Enes Kanter missed jump shot  
6:37   POR team rebound  
6:31   Maurice Harkless missed driving layup  
6:29   Offensive rebound by Maurice Harkless  
6:24   Shooting foul on Torrey Craig  
6:24 +1 CJ McCollum made 1st of 2 free throws 69-70
6:24 +1 CJ McCollum made 2nd of 2 free throws 69-71
6:13   Shooting foul on Maurice Harkless  
6:13 +1 Paul Millsap made 1st of 2 free throws 70-71
6:13 +1 Paul Millsap made 2nd of 2 free throws 71-71
6:01 +2 Damian Lillard made driving layup 71-73
5:50   Paul Millsap missed 3-pt. jump shot  
5:49   Offensive rebound by Torrey Craig  
5:43   Gary Harris missed 3-pt. jump shot  
5:39   Defensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
5:30 +2 Damian Lillard made fade-away jump shot 71-75
5:16   Jamal Murray missed 3-pt. jump shot  
5:16   POR team rebound  
5:16   Personal foul on Torrey Craig  
5:16   Al-Farouq Aminu missed 1st of 2 free throws  
5:16   POR team rebound  
5:13   Enes Kanter missed hook shot  
5:11   Defensive rebound by Paul Millsap  
5:04   Personal foul on Enes Kanter  
4:55 +2 Nikola Jokic made jump shot, assist by Gary Harris 73-75
4:41   Enes Kanter missed jump shot  
4:33 +3 Nikola Jokic made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Gary Harris 76-75
4:18 +3 Damian Lillard made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Enes Kanter 76-78
4:01   Defensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
3:54   Shooting foul on Gary Harris  
3:54 +1 Damian Lillard made 1st of 2 free throws 76-79
3:54 +1 Damian Lillard made 2nd of 2 free throws 76-80
3:39 +2 Paul Millsap made driving layup, assist by Gary Harris 78-80
3:26 +3 Damian Lillard made 3-pt. jump shot 78-83
3:05   Defensive rebound by CJ McCollum  
2:57   Shooting foul on Nikola Jokic  
2:57 +1 Zach Collins made 1st of 2 free throws 78-84
2:57 +1 Zach Collins made 2nd of 2 free throws 78-85
2:35   Paul Millsap missed turnaround jump shot  
2:33   Defensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
2:21   Rodney Hood missed jump shot  
2:20   Personal foul on Nikola Jokic  
2:20   Enes Kanter missed 1st of 2 free throws  
2:20 +1 Enes Kanter made 2nd of 2 free throws 78-86
2:02   Gary Harris missed floating jump shot  
2:01   POR team rebound  
1:40   Damian Lillard missed jump shot  
1:39   Offensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
1:35   Enes Kanter missed hook shot  
1:25   Damian Lillard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:21   Defensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
1:14   Jamal Murray missed floating jump shot  
1:13   Offensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
1:06   Personal foul on Mason Plumlee  
1:06   Rodney Hood missed 1st of 2 free throws  
1:06 +1 Rodney Hood made 2nd of 2 free throws 78-87
0:51   Malik Beasley missed jump shot  
0:48   Defensive rebound by Zach Collins  
0:34   Lost ball turnover on Damian Lillard, stolen by Gary Harris  
0:30   Gary Harris missed layup, blocked by Zach Collins  
0:30   Defensive rebound by Damian Lillard  
0:10   Out of bounds turnover on Damian Lillard  
0:03   Jamal Murray missed floating jump shot  
0:01 +2 Jamal Murray made dunk 80-87
0:00   Damian Lillard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:00   POR team rebound  
0:00   End of period