Blazers Pull Even In Denver

----- CJ McCollum scores 20 points as the Portland Trail Blazers even up their Western Conference Semifinals series with the Denver Nuggets 1-1 with a 97-90 win Wednesday night at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

The unthinkable happened Wednesday night at Pepsi Center.

The Trail Blazers won a road playoff game on a night when Damian Lillard scored just 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting. Rodney Hood followed up his 17-point effort in game one with 15 off the bench as the Blazers evened up their best-of-seven semifinals series against the Nuggets at one game apiece with a 97-90 win in Denver.

The Blazers tightened up their defense in game two holding the Nuggets to just 90 points on 34.7% shooting including an abysmal 6-of-29 from three-point range. After going wild with 37 points in the opener, Portland held Nikola Jokic to 16 points on 7-of-17 shooting.

“I really liked our approach in the first half, particularly in the first quarter,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “Defensively, we were much better than Game One. Much better on the ball and didn’t give them all the easy things they got last game. I thought we sustained it really well in the first half. In the third quarter, too many fouls and the fourth quarter too many offensive rebounds by them, but I liked the tone we set early in the game.”

Denver connected on just 25 of their 57 shots in the paint and 8-for-24 on second-chance shots after pulling down 23 offensive rebounds.

“Not to oversimplify it, but it’s a make-or-miss league," Denver Coach Michael Malone said. "We couldn’t make a shot. We played good defense, we outrebounded them by 11, we didn’t get hurt with points off turnovers, but couldn’t make a damn shot.”

CJ McCollum scored a team-high 20 points, Al-Farouq Aminu recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Enes Kanter added 15 points and nine rebounds. Zach Collins joined Hood in double-figures off the bench finishing with 10 points and six rebounds.

A point of emphasis for the Blazers following game one was turnovers. The Nuggets scored 23 points off 18 Blazers' turnovers in game one, but just 10 points on 11 Portland turnovers in game two.

Notes- Blazers forward Maurice Harkless sprained his right ankle with 5:42 left in the first half and did not return. He is going to be reevaluated on Thursday. His status for Friday is unknown at this time.

Up Next- Game three will be Friday night at Moda Center. The scheduled tip time is 7:30 PM.

Chad's Take- Better ball security and defensive effort tonight. Blazers won a road playoff game with Damian Lillard scoring just 14 points while the Nuggets pulled down 23 offensive rebounds. Amazing.

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