Trail Blazers Season Ends With Game 6 Loss At Home

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- The Portland Trail Blazers had their 2020-21 season come to an end with a 126-115 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of their first round playoff series in front of a crowd of 10,022 Thursday night at Moda Center.

“I thought we played hard. In the playoffs, everybody plays hard,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It’s disappointing to lose in the playoffs. There’s no question about that. Denver is a good team. Jokic is a great player and everything goes around him, but I couldn’t be more proud of what we did to get ourselves in the position to be the six-seed. Obviously I’m very disappointed with the outcome.”

With the win, the three-seed Nuggets take the series 4-2 and will move on to play the winner of the series between the two-seed Suns and the seven-seed Lakers. And with the loss, the Trail Blazers have been eliminated in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs for the second straight season.

“My only concern was making the playoffs and making a strong push,” said Damian Lillard. “To come up short and for our season to end on our home floor is disappointing, that’s as far as I am with it right now. I’m not really thinking about the other stuff, we’ll see what happens but I haven’t even thought that far out.”

Up 14 with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter, it seemed as if the Trail Blazers were destined to win Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Denver. They had managed to mostly hold Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in check, the guards were scoring inside the paint and behind the three-point line and Jusuf Nurkic, despite picking up two fouls early in the third quarter, could still play aggressively on both ends of the floor.

But Nurkic would foul Jokic on a three-point attempt with three minutes to play in the third, giving him his third foul. A few minutes later, Nurkic would pick up an offensive foul for his fourth foul of the quarter, sending the center to the bench.

And in the meantime, Denver outscored Portland 14-2 to cut the lead to 101-98 going into the fourth. After the Nuggets scored the first four points of the fourth to take the lead, Carmelo Anthony responded with five-straight to take the advantage back. But in what would be effectively the end of Portland’s season, the Nuggets went on a 15-2 run to take a 119-108 lead with 3:20 to play.

And unlike in Game 5, there would be no heroic comeback to force overtime. The Nuggets would limit Lillard’s attempts, and with 30 seconds to play in their season, Portland’s starters would be subbed out for the bench for one last time.

“I think we scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, so we didn’t make shots,” said CJ McCollum. “I think they just did a good job at moving the ball. And a good job at forcing us into tough contested shots. We missed some shots we normally make as well. Credit them. They played a great series and played a great game.”

Lillard finished with 28 points on 8-of-20 shooting from the field, 3-of-11 shooting from three and 9-of-9 shooting from the lien to go with 13 assists, four rebounds and two steals in 43 minutes.

McCollum went 9-of-21 for 21 points, four rebounds and three assists. Norman Powell added 17 points and four rebounds. Robert Covington finished with a double-double of 11 points, 10 rebounds and Nurkic added 13 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes.

Anthony added 14 points, five rebounds and four assists off the bench.

Jokic led all scorers with 36 points to go with eight rebounds and six assists. Michael Porter Jr. scored 22 of his 26 points in the first quarter and Monte Morris nearly outscored Portland’s bench on his own, going 8-of-16 from the4 field and 3-of-6 from three for 22 points in 33 minutes.

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