Paul Millsap scored 24 points and hauled down 8 rebounds for the Denver Nuggets as they easily defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 124-98 in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals. The Nuggets now take a 3-2 series lead.
The Nuggets won at home in Denver several hours as a school shooting in the nearby suburbs of Highlands Ranch, where head coach Michael Malone and his family live. The Nuggets held a moment of silence in Pepsi Arena before the game began.
“The school is literally two minutes away from where I live, right down Broadway,” said Malone.
Several nearby schools went in lockdown, which affected Malone’s daughters and the children of several players on the Nuggets.
MVP Jokic, Millsap Rising
Triple-double machine Nikola Jokic continued his wrecking crew ways. He almost tallied a 20-20 game, but fell short of that rare milestone with a 25 point and 19 rebound performance.
In Game 5, Jokic shot 10-for-18 from the floor and missed all three of his three-point attempts. He also tallied 6 assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Despite Jokic’s stellar game, he stepped aside to let Paul Millsap steal the spotlight. The power forward stepped up with 24 points plus 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal. Jamal Murray, fresh off a 34-point night in Game 4, chipped in 18 points and 9 assists.
The Blazers fell behind by 18 points at halftime and could not launch a successful counterattack in the second half. The Blazers were down 30-plus points late in Game 5, but were lucky to only lose by 26 points. Rodney Hood, the hero of the Nugs/Blazers Game 3’s quadruple overtime affair, added 14 points in 26 minutes off the bench.
Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points in Game 5. The Blazers top scorer struggled from three-point land with a 2-for-9 clip. An unusually quiet CJ McCollum scored only 12 points in 29 minutes. He went 5-for-16 from the floor. McCollum and Lillard combined for 14-for-37 overall for 37.8 percent. The also combined for 28 percent from beyond the arc in Game 5.
The Blazers are happy to return home to Portland for Game 6 on Thursday night. The Blazers were 32-9 in Portland this season, which was tied for the second-best home record in the West. They are on the brink of elimination and must win to force a Game 7.
“We’ve got two must-wins ahead of us,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts.
The If there is a seventh game in this series, the Nuggets will host it in Denver over the weekend.
According to most sports books in Las Vegas, the Portland Trail Blazers are a 4-point consensus favorite over the visiting Denver Nuggets in Game 6.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Denver Nuggets are 20/1 odds to win the NBA championship. The Portland Trail Blazers are 75/1 odds to win the title as one of the long shots on the board.