|6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 PM CT0:00 , April 7, 2019
Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon Attendance: 19,890
Nuggets look to sweep home-and-home set with Trail Blazers
Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers
- Denver has won five straight meetings with Portland, with the last four wins coming by a combined 13 points. The only time the Nuggets have ever won 6+ straight against the Trail Blazers was an eight-game streak from 2005-07.
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Plenty remains on the line in Sunday's matchup between the visiting Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers. But the Nuggets are in much better position in the Western Conference playoff race after a 109-100 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday in Denver.
The Nuggets (53-26), who are in second place behind Golden State (55-24) in the West, assured themselves of at least the No. 3 seed in the conference and retain a mathematical chance to win the conference. Denver would need to win its last three games and have the Warriors lose their final three to gain the No. 1 seed. The Nuggets lead No. 3 Houston (52-28) by 1 1/2 games.
Denver, which can clinch the second seed with two more wins, has assured itself of its first Northwest Division championship since 2012-13.
"That is a great achievement for us," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "More important, we're not satisfied. We've got three more games to go, and the playoffs."
Said point guard Jamal Murray said: "We know what we're capable of. We have a lot of learning to do, but we're on a great path."
The Nuggets got big games from Murray, center Nikola Jokic and forward Paul Millsap and also received a lift from swingman Torrey Craig off the bench in Friday's win. Jokic had 22 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, Millsap contributed 25 points and seven boards and Murray scored 23 points while Craig added 18 points and seven rebounds and was terrific in the clutch.
"He was phenomenal," Malone said of the 6-foot-7 Craig. "His defense, his offense -- everything he did out there."
The Nuggets were aggressive with their defense and the referees let a lot of the rough stuff go.
"It was very physical out there," said Portland center Enes Kanter, who scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds. "Their big men -- Jokic, Millsap and (Mason) Plumlee -- they were hitting me extra. But it's the NBA -- no complaining."
Portland guard Damian Lillard had one of his least successful offensive games of the season, managing 14 points and eight rebounds while making only 3 of 14 shots from the field and missing all of his six 3-point attempts.
"It was a tough game," Lillard said. "We had our opportunities. (The Nuggets) made the plays they needed to win the game."
The Trail Blazers were short-handed. Center Jusuf Nurkic (leg) is out for the season, shooting guard CJ McCollum (knee) missed his 10th straight game and reserve guard Seth Curry (leg) was unable to go.
The Trail Blazers (50-29) can still get as high as the No. 3 seed in the West and can go no lower than No. 5. They are only one game ahead of No. 5 Utah (49-30), and the Jazz hold the tiebreaker. Portland can assure itself of the fourth seed -- and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs -- by sweeping its final three regular-season contests, beginning Sunday against the Nuggets.
"We have to turn it on them," Portland forward Maurice Harkless said. "We just have to try to be the aggressors from the beginning."
"I believe in this team," Kanter said. "I think this is a championship team. We have enough talent to beat any team on any floor. We just need to stay together and go from here."
--Field Level Media
Updated April 6, 2019