Nikola Jokic had 36 points, 11 tables and 5 assists as the visiting Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-115 Thursday night in Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round series.
Austin Rivers scored 16 of his 21 points off the bench in the fourth quarter, Michael Porter Jr. has 15 points, Aaron Gordon scored 13 and Facundo Campazzo had 11 for the Nuggets, who took a 2-1 lead in the best of-. seven sets.
Game 4 is Saturday afternoon in Portland.
Damian Lillard led Portland with 37 points. CJ McCollum had 22, Norman Powell had 18, Carmelo Anthony had 17 and Jusuf Nurkic finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Denver led 89-81 early in the fourth before Anthony hit a 3-point corner, a pair of free throws and another long-range to tie it at 91-all with 6:55 left to go.
The teams traded duds until Rivers hit a 3 pointer to put the Nuggets back in the lead. McCollum split a pair of free throws and Gordon hit a layup to make it 96-92 with 5:10 left.
Anthony did a driving layup but Rivers responded with two more depths to stretch the lead to 102-94 with 3:49 left.
Lillard hit a layup, Jokic made two free throws and a layup following a failure by the Trail Blazers to make it 106-96. Lillard hit a 30-footer, Gordon dived and Lillard and Powell also had dunks to do 108-103 with 1:38 to go.
Denver scored five points to come back from 10, but Portland made a 3-point trio to enter 118-115 with 3.9 seconds left. Monte Morris missed two free throws but Jokic swung into the second failure to seal it.
Denver led by no less than 12 in the first half and took a 64-59 lead in intermission.
The Trail Blazers were under two but Campazzo hit the ground running and Jokic scored eight quick points to push the lead to 75-64 early in the third period.
Portland used a 13-4 run to get 79-77, but Denver made five free throws in the final two minutes to take an 84-79 lead in the fourth quarter.
And Denver survived a few power surges to claim a vital victory in Game 3.