Denver Beats Portland 120-115, Goes up 2-1 in Playoff Series

Nikola Jokic had 36 points and 11 rebounds and the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-115 Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Austin Rivers hit four consecutive 3 pointers during a crucial stretch in the final quarter and finished with 21 points for third-seeded Denver, which had 20 3s overall.

The Blazers struggled from 3-point range and got poor shooting from their bench players despite cheers from the biggest home crowd allowed at the Moda Center this season. Damian Lillard led all scorers with 37 points.

Game 4 is Saturday at the Moda Center.

Denver led 84-79 heading into the final period, but Portland tied it at 91 on Carmelo Anthony’s 3-pointer with just under seven minutes to play.

Rivers’ third straight 3-pointer put the Nuggets up 102-94 with 3:49 left and his teammates rushed over to celebrate with him as a timeout was called.

The Blazers were hurt when Jusuf Nurkic fouled out with 5:15 left. Nurkic finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Portland pulled within 108-103 after Lillard’s dunk with 1:38 left, but Rivers answered with another 3-pointer that all but sealed it. Rivers had five 3-pointers.

Sixth-seeded Portland opened the first round with a 123-109 victory in Denver. But the Nuggets adjusted to take Game 2 128-109.