“Defense was not part of the game tonight, for either team,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said.
That’s putting it kindly. Portland scored 113 points (with a 113 offensive rating since there were 100 possessions), shot 51.9 percent as a team, got 39 points from Damian Lillard and still lost.
That’s because Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with an impressive all-around game of 37 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and Denver scored at will on its way to a 121-113 win. Game 2 is Wednesday night.
The game seemed a shock to the system for both sides after the first round. Denver went from facing a San Antonio team that doesn’t hunt threes to a Portland team that took 29 (and that seemed low). Portland went from facing a team that they dared to shoot jumpers in Oklahoma City team to a Denver squad that lives by those jumpers (and the driving lanes they create.
Both teams were putting up numbers, but Denver’s defense was able to create 18 turnovers, which turned into 23 points.
“It was a good offensive game but I thought the turnovers really made the difference,” Blazers’ coach Terry Stotts said.
Enes Kanter had an impressive 26 points for Portland, playing despite separating his shoulder in the closeout game against OKC just a week ago.
“Enes was terrific, very efficient, finished around the basket playing through the shoulder injury,” Stotts said. “I couldn’t have asked any more of him. He was terrific.”