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CJ McCollum leads Blazers past Nuggets 100-96 in Game 7

DENVER (AP) Damian Lillard's shots kept banging off the backboard, rattling off the rim, going everywhere but through the hoop.

The Portland Trail Blazers are going to the Western Conference Finals anyway because CJ McCollum had his back.

McCollum scored 37 points and added a crucial chase-down block in the closing minutes that helped the Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 100-96 in Game 7 on Sunday to advance to their first conference championship since 2000.

They'll open Tuesday night at Golden State against the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors in a series pitting Portland's Seth Curry against his big brother, Golden State star Steph Curry.

Lillard scored 13 points and made just 3 of 17 shots from the field, but two of them were critical 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that put Portland ahead 81-76 and 92-85.

''It's a luxury to have two guys like that who can find different ways to score in different ways,'' Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. ''CJ does it one way, Dame does it in another. On a night when Dame struggled shooting the ball CJ came up big.''

''CJ McCollum showed why they have one of the best backcourts in the NBA,'' Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. ''He put his team on his back and made big play after big play.''

None bigger than when his crucial chase-down block with 4:44 left and the Trail Blazers leading 87-83.

McCollum raced to stop a breakaway layup by Jamal Murray, who had a miserable night shooting, missing 14 of 18 shots.

''Seth did a good job of cutting off his lane and making him have to go over his head,'' McCollum said. ''He put it right there for me and I went and got it `Bron style. Shout out to my guy `Bron. It was a mini-version of `Bron's block on Iggy some years ago. Definitely didn't get up as high but it was a cool play. I might get a picture of that.''

Lillard said it was just the spark the Blazers needed to complete the comeback from a 17-point first-half hole.

''Those are the plays that get teams going, coming off a turnover and they get an easy one,'' he said. ''At that point of the game you want to make them work for everything.''

The Nuggets were down 96-95 coming out of a timeout when McCollum hit a pull-up jumper over Torrey Craig with 12.4 seconds left.

''All summer long I'm going to probably be second-guessing myself at the timeout,'' Malone said. ''That's a shot he makes consistently. Torrey played good defense, as good a defense you can play 1-on-1. And I was saying after we should have sent someone at him. He's having a great game and make somebody else make a play or make a shot.''

The mismanagement continued: Jokic was fouled inside shooting a 2-pointer with 11.4 seconds left and missed the first free throw. Instead of missing the second on purpose, he made it for a 98-96 deficit.

Eric Turner then hit two free throws with eight seconds left for the final margin, and Jokic missed a long 3-pointer, with five seconds remaining, Turner grabbed the rebounds and dribbled out the clock.

The Nuggets raced to a 39-22 lead and Game 7 was beginning to look a lot like Game 5, when Denver blew out Portland by 26 points in this building. But Stotts called a timeout with 7:26 left in the second quarter and his team began chipping away.

''There wasn't going to be any quit,'' Stotts said. ''I didn't think they ever stopped believing. ... It was just about regrouping.''

The Blazers were down 48-39 at halftime and trailed by just a point heading into the fourth quarter.

That's when the Nuggets' hopes of reaching their first Western Conference Finals in a decade died with a 7-of-24 shooting performance, including 3 of 10 from Jokic, who tearfully blamed himself in the locker room for the loss.

Nonsense, said his coach, who suggested Jokic established himself during these playoffs as the best big man in basketball and he only petered out at the end because the Nuggets had to rely so heavily on the 7-foot All-Star.

''I hope after 14 playoff games, America, everyone around the world, came to appreciate his game,'' Malone said. ''For him to be as emotional and upset as he was speaks to his caring. He was upset because he thinks he didn't do enough for us to win tonight.''

It was a devastating end to Denver's season after the Nuggets ended a six-year playoff drought and earned the second seed in the Western Conference bracket.

TIP-INS:

Portland: Rodney Hood hyperextended his left knee in the third quarter. ... Evan Turner, who scored just four points in the first six games of the series, added 14 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.

Denver: The Nuggets were 2 of 19 from beyond the arc and missed 11 free throws. Portland was 4 of 26 on 3-pointers and 20 of 24 from the stripe.

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1st Quarter

Time Team Play Score
12:00   Jumpball  
11:45   Offensive foul on Al-Farouq Aminu  
11:45   Turnover on Al-Farouq Aminu  
11:28   Shooting foul on Enes Kanter  
11:28 +1 Gary Harris made free throw 0-3
11:12 +2 CJ McCollum made driving layup 2-3
10:52 +2 Nikola Jokic made hook shot 2-5
10:33 +2 Enes Kanter made jump shot, assist by Damian Lillard 4-5
10:11   Defensive rebound by Damian Lillard  
10:00   Enes Kanter missed floating jump shot  
9:56   Shooting foul on CJ McCollum  
9:56   Torrey Craig missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
9:54   Defensive rebound by Maurice Harkless  
9:40   Damian Lillard missed driving layup, blocked by Paul Millsap  
9:38   Defensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
9:31 +3 Nikola Jokic made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 4-9
9:08 +2 CJ McCollum made fade-away jump shot, assist by Damian Lillard 6-9
8:55   Lost ball turnover on Jamal Murray, stolen by Maurice Harkless  
8:52   Shooting foul on Paul Millsap  
8:52 +1 Al-Farouq Aminu made 1st of 2 free throws 7-9
8:52   Al-Farouq Aminu missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
8:49   Defensive rebound by Gary Harris  
8:30 +3 Nikola Jokic made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 7-12
8:15   Al-Farouq Aminu missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:10   Defensive rebound by Torrey Craig  
7:58   Paul Millsap missed turnaround jump shot  
7:57   Defensive rebound by Al-Farouq Aminu  
7:52   Personal foul on Torrey Craig  
7:48   Maurice Harkless missed floating jump shot  
7:39 +2 Gary Harris made dunk 7-14
7:23   Damian Lillard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:20   Offensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
7:20   Enes Kanter missed dunk  
6:56   Defensive rebound by Al-Farouq Aminu  
6:48   Al-Farouq Aminu missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:46   Offensive rebound by Maurice Harkless  
6:38 +2 Al-Farouq Aminu made floating jump shot, assist by Maurice Harkless 9-14
6:19 +2 Gary Harris made layup 9-16
5:54   CJ McCollum missed 3-pt. jump shot  
5:45 +2 Paul Millsap made dunk, assist by Torrey Craig 9-18
5:29   Al-Farouq Aminu missed layup, blocked by Paul Millsap  
5:29   Defensive rebound by Gary Harris  
5:24   Gary Harris missed reverse layup  
5:22   Defensive rebound by Al-Farouq Aminu  
5:15 +2 CJ McCollum made jump shot 11-18
4:52   Personal foul on Maurice Harkless  
4:39 +2 Paul Millsap made jump shot, assist by Gary Harris 11-20
4:30   Personal foul on Nikola Jokic  
4:23   Zach Collins missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:21   Offensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
4:17 +2 Enes Kanter made dunk 13-20
3:56   Paul Millsap missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:53   Defensive rebound by CJ McCollum  
3:47   CJ McCollum missed jump shot  
3:44   Defensive rebound by Gary Harris  
3:36   POR team rebound  
3:24   Rodney Hood missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:21   Defensive rebound by Paul Millsap  
3:09 +2 Paul Millsap made driving layup, assist by Gary Harris 13-22
2:54 +2 CJ McCollum made finger-roll layup 15-22
2:42 +1 Jamal Murray made 1st of 3 free throws 15-23
2:42 +1 Jamal Murray made 2nd of 3 free throws 15-24
2:43 +1 Jamal Murray made 3rd of 3 free throws 15-25
2:25   Rodney Hood missed floating jump shot, blocked by Nikola Jokic  
2:25   Defensive rebound by Torrey Craig  
2:22   Lost ball turnover on Torrey Craig, stolen by Damian Lillard  
2:21   Personal foul on Mason Plumlee  
2:16   Damian Lillard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:11   Offensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
2:09   Damian Lillard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:05   Defensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
1:59 +2 Jamal Murray made layup 15-27
1:36   Damian Lillard missed fade-away jump shot  
1:33   Defensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
1:26   Mason Plumlee missed layup  
1:24   Offensive rebound by Mason Plumlee  
1:22   Mason Plumlee missed dunk  
1:22   Defensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
1:14   Enes Kanter missed hook shot  
1:12   Defensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
1:08   Personal foul on Seth Curry  
1:08 +1 Jamal Murray made 1st of 2 free throws 15-28
1:08 +1 Jamal Murray made 2nd of 2 free throws 15-29
0:51   Personal foul on Will Barton  
0:51 +1 Rodney Hood made 1st of 2 free throws 16-29
0:51 +1 Rodney Hood made 2nd of 2 free throws 17-29
0:33   Nikola Jokic missed hook shot  
0:32   Defensive rebound by Damian Lillard  
0:25   Enes Kanter missed reverse layup, blocked by Mason Plumlee  
0:25   DEN team rebound  
0:02   Defensive rebound by Rodney Hood  
0:04   Nikola Jokic missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:02   Defensive rebound by Rodney Hood  
0:00   Rodney Hood missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:00   POR team rebound  

2nd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:44 +2 Will Barton made driving layup 17-31
11:26   CJ McCollum missed driving layup  
11:24   Defensive rebound by Paul Millsap  
11:21   Will Barton missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:19   DEN team rebound  
11:19   Personal foul on Zach Collins  
11:12   Malik Beasley missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:09   Defensive rebound by CJ McCollum  
11:01   Personal foul on Malik Beasley  
10:46 +2 Zach Collins made layup, assist by CJ McCollum 19-31
10:23   Defensive rebound by CJ McCollum  
10:18   Rodney Hood missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:16   Defensive rebound by Monte Morris  
10:09   Shooting foul on Seth Curry  
10:09 +1 Monte Morris made 1st of 2 free throws 19-32
10:09   Monte Morris missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
10:07   Defensive rebound by Zach Collins  
10:00   Evan Turner missed jump shot  
9:58   Defensive rebound by Monte Morris  
9:53 +2 Mason Plumlee made dunk 19-34
9:53   Shooting foul on Evan Turner  
9:53   Mason Plumlee missed free throw  
9:38   CJ McCollum missed floating jump shot  
9:34   Zach Collins missed turnaround jump shot  
9:32   Defensive rebound by Paul Millsap  
9:25   Shooting foul on Evan Turner  
9:25 +1 Paul Millsap made 1st of 2 free throws 19-35
9:25   Paul Millsap missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
9:23   Defensive rebound by Evan Turner  
9:15   Offensive foul on Zach Collins  
8:56   Paul Millsap missed floating jump shot  
8:54   Defensive rebound by Evan Turner  
8:50   Personal foul on Will Barton  
8:36   Defensive rebound by Will Barton  
8:18   Defensive rebound by CJ McCollum  
8:18   Personal foul on Monte Morris  
8:10 +3 CJ McCollum made 3-pt. jump shot 22-35
7:50 +2 Will Barton made floating jump shot 22-37
7:12 +2 CJ McCollum made floating jump shot 24-39
6:53   Personal foul on Jamal Murray  
6:38 +2 CJ McCollum made finger-roll layup 26-39
6:20   Jamal Murray missed reverse layup, blocked by Zach Collins  
6:19   Defensive rebound by Zach Collins  
5:42   Nikola Jokic missed hook shot  
5:39   Defensive rebound by Damian Lillard  
5:40   Personal foul on Mason Plumlee  
5:40 +1 Damian Lillard made 1st of 2 free throws 29-39
5:40   Damian Lillard missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
5:38   Defensive rebound by Torrey Craig  
5:25   Bad pass turnover on Gary Harris, stolen by Damian Lillard  
5:24   Personal foul on Gary Harris  
5:24 +1 Damian Lillard made 1st of 2 free throws 30-39
5:24 +1 Damian Lillard made 2nd of 2 free throws 31-39
4:46   Damian Lillard missed finger-roll layup  
4:43   Defensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
4:36   Shooting foul on Zach Collins  
4:36   Paul Millsap missed 1st of 2 free throws  
4:36 +1 Paul Millsap made 2nd of 2 free throws 31-42
4:15   Shooting foul on Paul Millsap  
4:15 +1 Damian Lillard made 1st of 2 free throws 32-42
4:15 +1 Damian Lillard made 2nd of 2 free throws 33-42
3:57   Shooting foul on Enes Kanter  
3:57   Nikola Jokic missed 1st of 2 free throws  
3:57   DEN team rebound  
3:57 +1 Nikola Jokic made 2nd of 2 free throws 33-43
3:48   Shooting foul on Paul Millsap  
3:48 +1 Evan Turner made 1st of 2 free throws 34-43
3:48 +1 Evan Turner made 2nd of 2 free throws 35-43
3:36 +2 Nikola Jokic made floating jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 35-45
3:21   CJ McCollum missed driving layup  
3:19   Offensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
3:19   Enes Kanter missed dunk, blocked by Mason Plumlee  
3:19   DEN team rebound  
3:07 +2 Jamal Murray made floating jump shot 35-47
2:53   Evan Turner missed jump shot  
2:48   DEN team rebound  
2:47   Mason Plumlee missed 1st of 2 free throws  
2:47   DEN team rebound  
2:47 +1 Mason Plumlee made 2nd of 2 free throws 35-48
2:27 +2 Enes Kanter made finger-roll layup 37-48
1:58   POR team rebound  
1:41   Meyers Leonard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:38   Defensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
1:20   Defensive rebound by Rodney Hood  
0:57   Defensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
0:42   Nikola Jokic missed jump shot  
0:39   Defensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
0:27 +2 Rodney Hood made floating jump shot, assist by Enes Kanter 39-48
0:14   Jamal Murray missed jump shot  
0:12   Defensive rebound by Damian Lillard  
0:00   End of period  

3rd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:42   Nikola Jokic missed floating jump shot  
11:36   Offensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
11:19   Zach Collins missed jump shot  
11:17   Personal foul on Zach Collins  
10:48   Damian Lillard missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:43   Offensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
10:43 +2 Enes Kanter made dunk 41-50
10:30   Nikola Jokic missed floating jump shot  
10:24 +2 Rodney Hood made dunk, assist by Damian Lillard 43-50
10:04 +2 Nikola Jokic made jump shot, assist by Torrey Craig 43-52
9:45 +2 Gary Harris made finger-roll layup, assist by Nikola Jokic 45-54
9:31   Enes Kanter missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:26   Defensive rebound by Gary Harris  
9:10   Bad pass turnover on Nikola Jokic, stolen by CJ McCollum  
9:10   Personal foul on Gary Harris  
8:53 +2 CJ McCollum made jump shot 47-54
8:32   Offensive rebound by Torrey Craig  
8:20   DEN team rebound  
7:54 +2 CJ McCollum made driving dunk 49-56
7:38 +2 Gary Harris made jump shot, assist by Paul Millsap 49-58
7:01   Torrey Craig missed dunk  
6:59   Defensive rebound by Damian Lillard  
6:52   CJ McCollum missed floating jump shot  
6:52   Offensive rebound by CJ McCollum  
6:41 +2 Enes Kanter made layup, assist by Damian Lillard 53-58
6:14   Offensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
6:12   Nikola Jokic missed dunk  
6:11   Defensive rebound by Enes Kanter  
5:55 +2 Enes Kanter made jump shot, assist by Damian Lillard 55-58
5:35 +2 Torrey Craig made layup, assist by Gary Harris 55-60
5:35   Shooting foul on Zach Collins  
5:35 +1 Torrey Craig made free throw 55-61
5:20   CJ McCollum missed finger-roll layup  
5:18   DEN team rebound  
4:58 +2 Nikola Jokic made finger-roll layup 55-63
4:45   Evan Turner missed driving layup, blocked by Nikola Jokic  
4:45   POR team rebound  
4:43 +2 Evan Turner made fade-away jump shot, assist by Maurice Harkless 57-63
4:29   Jamal Murray missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:27   Offensive rebound by Jamal Murray  
4:18   Defensive rebound by Damian Lillard  
4:16 +2 Maurice Harkless made dunk, assist by Damian Lillard 59-63
3:54   Personal foul on Enes Kanter  
3:36   Defensive rebound by Damian Lillard  
3:34   Personal foul on Mason Plumlee  
3:27   Maurice Harkless missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:24   POR team rebound  
3:20 +2 CJ McCollum made floating jump shot, assist by Maurice Harkless 61-63
3:08   Personal foul on Meyers Leonard  
2:59   Defensive rebound by Maurice Harkless  
2:45   CJ McCollum missed floating jump shot  
2:43   Defensive rebound by Mason Plumlee  
2:37 +2 Gary Harris made driving layup 61-65
2:37   Shooting foul on Meyers Leonard  
2:37   Gary Harris missed free throw  
2:34   Offensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
2:27 +2 Jamal Murray made driving dunk, assist by Will Barton 61-67
2:14   Damian Lillard missed driving layup, blocked by Nikola Jokic  
2:13   Defensive rebound by Mason Plumlee  
2:13   Personal foul on Maurice Harkless  
2:13 +1 Mason Plumlee made 1st of 2 free throws 61-68
2:13   Mason Plumlee missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
2:11   Defensive rebound by Damian Lillard  
1:56   Meyers Leonard missed floating jump shot  
1:56   Offensive rebound by Maurice Harkless  
1:56 +2 Maurice Harkless made dunk 63-68
1:56   Shooting foul on Nikola Jokic  
1:50 +2 Maurice Harkless made hook shot 65-68
1:38   Personal foul on Meyers Leonard  
1:38 +1 Nikola Jokic made 1st of 2 free throws 65-69
1:38 +1 Nikola Jokic made 2nd of 2 free throws 65-70
1:23 +2 Meyers Leonard made dunk, assist by Damian Lillard 67-70
1:01   Will Barton missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:58   Defensive rebound by CJ McCollum  
0:47   Shooting foul on Will Barton  
0:47 +1 CJ McCollum made 1st of 2 free throws 68-70
0:47 +1 CJ McCollum made 2nd of 2 free throws 69-70
0:33