The Nuggets’ and Trail Blazers’ outside shooting was brutal enough.
Then, Portland’s 97-90 Game 2 win got even uglier.
I don’t think Kanter intended to collide with Craig. Nikola Jokic pushed Kanter, and as soon as an off-balance Kanter turned to run up court, Craig was right in front of him.
The big question: Will anyone get suspended for Game 3 Friday for leaving the bench area?
A timeout was called before the altercation, giving players additional leeway to be on the court. But Trail Blazers forward Evan Turner ran from his team’s bench area to get into the thick of the scrum.
Nuggets reserves Jarred Vanderbilt and Trey Lyles were also right in the mix. However, the clash occurred on side of the court with the Nuggets’ bench, and it’s unclear where Vanderbilt and Lyles were when it began. Murray was also out of the game, but since he apparently elevated the incident into an altercation, that’d by definition mean he didn’t leave the bench to enter an ongoing altercation.
Still, Vanderbilt got physically involved. He pushed Kanter then, as Rodney Hood separated Kanter, pushed Hood.
Turner is in Portland’s playoff rotation. Murray is in and Vanderbilt and Lyles are outside Denver’s.
My guess: Turner will get suspended. The telecast didn’t show Vanderbilt’s and and Lyles’ paths clearly enough to predict their fates, but Vanderbilt’s activity in the light skirmish could draw its own penalty. Ditto Murray’s, but his technical foul might be enough.
Portland might especially miss Turner, because starting small forward Maurice Harkless left the game in the first half with an ankle injury. He was solidly defending Murray, who got into a better rhythm afterward.
No matter what the league decides, the Nuggets will need more than a Turner suspension to get back on track in this 1-1 series.
Denver shot just 6-for-29 (21%) on 3-pointers, which was even worse than Portland’s 9-for-29 (31%). Their combined 3-point percentage (26%) was the second-lowest in a game this postseason. Only the Nuggets and Spurs shot worse – 19% in Game 7, though on 15 few shots than the teams took tonight.
It seemed that seven-game series could take a toll on Denver, and maybe the effects finally caught up tonight. The Nuggets missed many open 3s, perhaps a sign of fatigue. But they’re also capable of generating even better shots, and their offensive activity was lacking.
Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter (15 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals) defended much better than Game 1. Denver also made it easier on him, not forcing him to move his feet as much.
The Nuggets turned up their intensity late, but kept missing shots. In the fourth quarter, they grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to only four Portland defensive rebounds.
But, by then, it was too late. Behind a strong performance from C.J. McCollum (20 points and six assists), the Trail Blazers led the final 42 minutes.