Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum help Portland force Game 7 vs. Denver

The Blazers extended their season with a win in Game 6 on Thursday night

by Michael Kaskey-Blomain

The Portland Trail Blazers weren’t ready for their season to end on Thursday night. With their backs against the wall and facing elimination in Game 6, the Blazers responded in a major way and pulled out a 119-108 victory in front of their home crowd. With the win, the Blazers forced a do-or-die Game 7 situation that is set for Sunday in Denver.

Portland’s vaunted backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum led the way for the Blazers, as the duo combined for 62 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. The Blazers also got major contributions from their bench as Rodney Hood and Zach Collins combined to score 39 points off the pine.

Nikola Jokic led the way for the Nuggets, as he finished the game with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists, while Jamal Murray added 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Millsap chipped in with 17 points. Winning on the road in the postseason isn’t easy, and closing out an opponent on the road is especially difficult. The Nuggets learned that the hard way on Thursday night.

Here are a few takeaways from Portland’s clutch Game 6 win:

Lillard looked like his usual self
Dame Lillard hadn’t necessarily been held in check over the course of the first five games of the series with the Nuggets, but it’s fair to say that he wasn’t playing his best ball. In Game 6, he bounced back and looked like the All-NBA player to which we have grown accustomed — the same guy who sunk the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round with one of the coldest daggers in NBA history.

Lillard finished with a game-high 32 points, shot 6-for-13 from deep, and also added five assists. It was his best game of the series, and also his 15th career 30-point performance in the postseason.


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Blazers got a big bench boost

Rodney Hood provided the Trail Blazers with some much-needed firepower off of the bench, as he went for 20 points and hit several big shots in Game 6. Portland can rely on consistent production from Lillard and McCollum, but at times this postseason they have searched for a third option, especially with Jusuf Nurkic sidelined. When they get another guy to step up and score 20-plus like Hood did on Thursday night, they become that much more difficult to defend.

In addition to Hood, Zach Collins also provided the Blazers with some solid production off of the bench as he added 14 points and four rebounds of his own. The Blazers won the bench battle against the Nuggets big-time in Game 6, and that was a big part of the reason that they were able to walk away with a win.

Denver’s starters need some support
On the other side of the coin …

Denver got an all-around effort from their first five on Thursday night, as all five starters scored in double-digits and combined to score 95 points. The bad thing is that Denver scored just 108 points as a team, meaning that they got just 13 points of production off of the bench.

Hood and Collins each single-handedly outscored Denver’s entire bench, which tipped things in Portland’s favor. In Game 7, Denver is going to need more from their reserves.