----- Nikola Jokic dominates the Trail Blazers scoring 37 points, nine rebounds, and six assists as the Denver Nuggets take game one of the Western Conference Semifinals with a 121-113 victory Monday night at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
The Joker was wild on Monday night.
Nikola Jokic, who is known as the "Joker" in Denver gave Portland a headache in game one of the Western Conference Semifinals scoring 37 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. The Nuggets took a 1-0 series lead with 121-113 win at Pepsi Center.
Jokic connected on 11 of his 18 shots, went 12-for-12 from the free throw line, and connected on 3-for-5 from three-point range in just over 41 minutes of action.
Jokic had plenty of help. Jamal Murray scored 23 points and Paul Milsap added 19 points and pulled down six rebounds. Malik Beasley and Will Barton scored nine points apiece off the bench for Denver.
Damian Lillard scored a game-high 39 points to lead Portland and Enes Kanter added 26 points and seven rebounds while dealing with a sore left shoulder. He was questionable for game one after separating his shoulder in the first round against Oklahoma City.
''Enes was terrific, very efficient, finished around the basket playing through the shoulder injury,'' Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. ''I couldn't have asked any more of him. He was terrific.''
Rodney Hood broke out of his recent slump scoring 17 points off the bench. After making major contributions in round one against OKC, Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless combined for just four points on 2-for-7 shooting.
Portland had nearly six-days of rest after wrapping up their first round series last Tuesday, but Denver looked like the fresher team after closing out a seven-game series on Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs.
“Now it’s a matter of just going out there and getting that urgency back up, the emotions of the game,” Malone said. “When you come off a Game 7, you can’t have any hangover. You have to have that same sense of urgency you had in the first round.”
The biggest problem for Portland in game one was sloppy play. The Blazers committed 18 turnovers leading to 23 points for the Nuggets. Denver was +17 in points off turnovers.
''It was a good offensive game but I thought the turnovers really made the difference,'' Stotts said.
Up Next- Game two of the series will be Wednesday night at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The scheduled tip off time is 6:00 PM.
Chad's Take- Denver looked like the more rested team on Monday night. Awful performance by Portland. Poor defense and sloppy play on offense led to the defeat. Harkless and Aminu combined for four points. Going to need more from the starting wings in this series.