PORTLAND, Ore, (KOIN) — The Portland Trail Blazers suffered a crucial Game 3 loss to the Denver Nuggets 120-115 with MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic having a big game, finishing with 35 points.
Here are 6 takeaways from the loss:
1. First half 3-point shooting for Nuggets
The Blazers came out in Game 3 and really had a tough time defending the Nuggets beyond the arc early in the game. Coming out the gate, the Nuggets were a perfect 8/8, which eventually led to them only missing two 3s in the first half, pushing their lead to 10. Luckily, a late push at the end of the second quarter saved the Blazers.
2. Poor first half shooting for the Blazers
While the Nuggets shot the lights out in the first half, the Blazers couldn’t mirror their performance. Early in the game the Blazers tried to get the offense going, which they did, but they just couldn’t connect from beyond the paint in the first quarter. While the Blazers jumped out to an early lead, the poor shooting led to the Blazers losing the lead.
3. Austin Rivers put his stamp on the 4th
After struggling the first few games, Rivers really gave the Nuggets the extra boost they needed in Game 3. Late in the fourth quarter, Rivers came out and hit back-to-back three pointers and then two possessions later, hit a third triple. Rivers’ 3-pointers gave the Nuggets the extra boost they needed to steal Game 3 of the series.
4. Too many miscues for the Blazers
The Blazers had a ton of miscommunication turnovers which made things nearly impossible for them to win. Whether it was a Robert Covington hand off, or a bad pass off a screen, the Blazers turnovers were not forced by the Nuggets but by themselves. This really made things difficult for them to consistently give them a chance to win the game.
5. Jokic dominated the paint
Jokic continues to make a statement for the MVP race and he showed why Thursday night. Not only did Jokic put up 36 points for the Nuggets and the Dagger with seconds left on the clock, but he dominated the paint all night. Jokic just continued to make his stamp under the basket, as well as just dominate the boards. The Blazers continue to have an uphill battle and have to find a way to slow him down.
6. Late game defense
One of the biggest things that has stood out about the Blazers is their struggles defensively. Again tonight they faced that same struggle late in a crucial game where the Blazers needed the defense to step up the most and they again showed they have been weak on that end of the floor.