----- Rodney Hood scores 25 points off the bench as the Portland Trail Blazers force Game 7 Sunday in Denver with a 119-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets Thursday night at Moda Center.
The Trail Blazers will celebrate Mother's Day Sunday with a game 7 at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
It took six-games, but Terry Stotts has discovered the right lineup to open up more space on the floor for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to operate. The answer is Rodney Hood and Zach Collins.
Hood continued his dominance of the Denver Nuggets playing his best game of the series Thursday night at Moda Center. Hood came off the bench to score 25 points on 8-for-12 shooting providing a shot-in-the-arm for the Blazers' offense.
“Just being patient. In the OKC series I was more of just a spacer,” Hood said. “Dame and CJ just had a great rhythm. I was more trying to affect winning – playing defense, getting deflections, those type of things."
“This series I got a matchup that I like. I’m real aggressive trying to pick spots I like – take some pressure off Dame and CJ. It’s working out right now. We’ve got one more game to get to the Western Conference Finals. We’ve got to keep trying to exploit everything.”
Collins played his best game of the series when his team needed him most. He scored 14 points, pulled down four rebounds, and added five blocked shots. Collins was flying around the court challenging the Nuggets at the rim and providing terrific defense on Nikola Jokic and Paul Milsap.
“That’s my job,” Collins said, “to come in and bring energy off the bench. It’s kind of been my job since I got here.”
Portland Coach Terry Stotts said, “Well, Collins had a big impact on the game. The fact that he was able to impact the game at the defensive end and stay out of foul trouble, it was important for him."
Lillard rediscovered his shooting touch to score a game-high 32 points connecting on 6-of-13 from three-point range. Lillard caught fire in the third scoring 17 points.
McCollum nearly equaled his back court mate scoring 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting.
Denver led by as many as 10 points in the opening quarter, but Portland opened the second on an 11-4 run to cut the lead to 38-37. The Blazers dominated the quarter 32-20 taking a four-point halftime lead. Led by Lillard's outburst, Portland extended their lead to 87-80 entering the fourth.
The Nuggets closed the gap to 89-85 early in the fourth but Portland responded with a burst behind Lillard, McCollum, and Hood to put the game away.
Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 29 points and 12 rebounds while Jamal Murray added 24 points and 10 rebounds.
The winner of Sunday's game will face the winner of the series between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have a 3-2 series advantage. Game six will be played Friday night in Houston.
If Houston wins on Friday night to force a game 7, the Blazers will play at 6:30 PM. If the Warriors win game 6 in Houston, Portland will tip off at 12:30 PM on Sunday.
Up Next- Trail Blazers and Nuggets will play Game 7 Sunday in Denver at Pepsi Center. NBA has not scheduled a time for tip off yet.
Chad's Take- Rodney Hood and Zach Collins were the difference in Game six. They must get the majority of minutes ahead of Harkless and Aminu in Game 7.