Trail Blazers, Nuggets back at it after marathon Game 3

Portland tries to protect 2-1 series lead

May 05, 2019 - 1:51 pm

The Portland Trail Blazers and visiting Denver Nuggets head into Sunday's Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals in the same boat.

With precious little in the tank.

Some 41 hours after the end of the Trail Blazers' 140-137 quadruple-overtime victory over the Nuggets in Friday's Game 3, the teams will tip it off again.

"(The Blazers) have the same turnaround," Denver coach Mike Malone said after the second four-overtime game in NBA playoff history. "You try to learn from the loss and get (the players) ready for battle.

"Both teams are exhausted. It's the same for them as it is for us. We will not use it as an excuse. We haven't used it all year long, and we won't use it now."

Game 3 was a three-hour, 35-minute marathon that left players and coaches drained at the final buzzer. There were 24 lead changes and 18 ties and enough drama to script a season of "Days of our Lives."

"I have no idea what happened in the first half, the second half or the first three overtimes," deadpanned Portland coach Terry Stotts after his Blazers had finally put away the Nuggets to seize a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. "I've never been involved in a game like that, regular season or playoffs."

Malone can relate.

"There were a couple of moments when I thought we had the game," Malone said. "It was almost like, 'When is this game going to end?' It kept on going and going.

"It speaks to their group, to our group -- competitors, fighters leaving it all out on the floor. Hats off to Portland. Great win for them, and now we have to try to get one on Sunday."

The Blazers had just enough to offset the sensational performance of Denver's Nikola Jokic, whose triple-double (33 points, 18 rebounds, 14 assists) came in 65 minutes on the court -- 64 minutes, 58 seconds to be exact.

"That's unheard of -- ridiculous," Malone said, chastising himself as he met with the media afterward. "I can't ask him to do that. That's too many minutes."

CJ McCollum and Rodney Hood earned the major plaudits in Portland's most important victory in 19 seasons, dating to the 2000 Western Conference finals against Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

McCollum matched his career playoff high with 41 points while playing a franchise playoff-record 60 minutes. Hood came off the bench to score seven of his career playoff-high 19 points in the fourth overtime. His 3-point swisher with 18.6 seconds remaining gave the Blazers a 138-136 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Despite the quick turnaround, both teams say they'll be ready for the next encounter.

"Everybody's tired," said Portland guard Damian Lillard, who scored 28 points in Game 3. "But we're built for what's happening right now. We have to go home and rest and recover and do our jobs off the court to make sure we're ready to play at 4 o'clock (PT) Sunday."

Said Malone: "We're going to need everybody. Our guys are drained with all the minutes (they've played). We're pushing them to give us all they have. It's Game 4, our backs to the wall on the road -- let's leave it all out there on the floor."

--Field Level Media

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