(Colo.)- Millsap, Jokic Spark Nuggets' 124-98 Blowout Of Blazers
DENVER (AP) - Nikola Jokic scored 25 points and tied a team playoff high with 19 rebounds, and Paul Millsap injected some experience into a series dominated by youth, sparking the Nuggets' 124-98 blowout of the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night that gave Denver a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Nuggets can secure their first trip to the Western Conference Finals in a decade with a win in Game 6 on Thursday night in Portland.
Millsap scored 19 of his 24 points in the first half of the first lopsided game in a series that was so evenly matched coming in that Denver held a cumulative scoring advantage of 464-462.
The Nuggets never trailed and stretched a six-point lead after one quarter to 18 at the half and 28 heading into the fourth quarter. They led by as many as 31 before a parade of backups gave the starters some much-needed breathers.
Damian Lillard led Portland with 22 points but again struggled from the arc, going 2 of 9 on 3-pointers.
Coming off a resounding Game 4 win that followed that epic quadruple-overtime loss, the Nuggets were focused and efficient just as coach Michael Malone promised when he said Denver wouldn't dare let up and exhale at home after reclaiming the home-court advantage.
Millsap came out hot, scoring a dozen points in the first quarter. Just before halftime, he gathered a behind-the-back pass from Jamal Murray (18 points) and swished a 3-pointer while being knocked to the floor by Rodney Hood.
His subsequent free throw gave him a four-point play and 19 first-half points as the Nuggets took a 20-point lead. Lillard, who had 18 points at the break, scored an uncontested basket just before the end of the half to pull the Trail Blazers to 65-47 heading into the locker room.
Whatever adjustments Blazers coach Terry Stotts tried to make at the half didn't take as the Nuggets outscored Portland 28-18 in the third quarter, and before long, the Blazers were thinking more about salvaging Game 6 and hoping to regroup for a return trip to Denver in hopes of a different outcome.
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