Portland blazes past Nuggets to set up a Western Conference Finals clash with the Warriors
CJ McCollum scored 37 points and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame a 17-point first-half deficit to beat the Denver Nuggets 100-96 on Sunday to advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2000.
Evan Turner, who scored just four points in the first six games of the series, added 14 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
The Trail Blazers advanced to face the defending NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors, beginning on Tuesday night in Oakland.
Portland’s comeback left a stunned home crowd streaming to the exits at the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets owned the best record in the league during the regular season but where they lost twice to Portland in the series.
McCollum’s big game was necessary because Damian Lillard made just 3 of 17 shots for 13 points, although two of them were crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Jokic led Denver with 29 points, but missed 15 shots. Jamal Murray had 14 points, but was four of 18 from the floor. Overall, the Nuggets were two of 19 from beyond the arc and missed 11 free throws.
The Nuggets raced to a 17-point lead in the first half and took a 48-39 halftime lead after throttling Lillard, who made just one of nine shots and missed all four of his three-pointers after going off for 32 points in Portland’s Game 6 victory.
Rodney Hood, whom Nuggets coach Michael Malone said he was most worried about heading into Game 7, injured his left knee in the third quarter and left the game.
Hood was cleanly screened by Torrey Craig when none of his teammates warned him and crumpled at midcourt while Craig broke free for the basket that gave Denver a 60-55 lead.