PORTLAND — Usually the chants in Portland are for star Damian Lillard. On Saturday Norman Powell was treated to the crowd’s adulation.
Powell matched his career playoff high with 29 points and the Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 115-95 on Saturday in Game 4 to even the first-round series.
“I love these types of games, these kinds of moments. It’s the moment where nothing else matters,” Powell said. “You get caught up in the course of the season with stats sometimes, this-that-and-the-other, road trips, but when you get into the playoffs, the only thing that matters is winning.”
Powell made four 3-pointers and was 11 of 15 from the floor. When he left the floor with the game well in hand, fans chanted “Nor-man Pow-ell! Nor-man Pow-ell!”
“I thought it was really dope,” he said. “At first I didn’t know what they were saying when I was sitting there, and then the guys on the bench were chanting as well so that got a little smile out of me.”
CJ McCollum added 21 points for the sixth-seeded Trail Blazers. The series shifts to Game 5 on Tuesday night in Denver.
Nikola Jokic finished with 16 points and nine rebounds for third-seeded Denver before sitting out the final quarter. He was the Nuggets’ top scorer.
Lillard was 1 for 10 from the field but finished with 10 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. He also sat for the final quarter after the Blazers led by as many as 33 points in the third.
“If you would have told me going in that game that Lillard’s going to be 1 for 10 from the field and we’re going to get blown out, I would’ve probably had a hard time believing that,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “So, I have to be a lot better and the urgency has to be there. Maybe this could be a wake up call for our starting group, just to play harder. Good things happen when you play hard, and we didn’t play anywhere close to hard enough tonight.”
The Nuggets downed the Blazers 120-115 at the Moda Center on Thursday night. In that game, Denver had 20 3-pointers and got a boost from four straight 3s from Austin Rivers during a key stretch in the fourth quarter. On Saturday, Rivers had eight points.
It was imperative for Portland that big man Jusuf Nurkic — probably Portland’s best defense against Jokic — stay out of trouble after fouling out in the previous two games. Portland’s bench, with the exception of Carmelo Anthony, had also been struggling, outscored in Game 3 24-19 by Denver.
Nurkic finished with 17 points, and Anthony had 12 — on his 37th birthday — to lead the bench.
“We got our butts whooped tonight so that should be all the motivation we need,” Denver’s JaMychal Green said. “I mean it was embarrassing. So when we go home we gotta be the aggressors.”
Game 3 of the series was blacked out for some viewers in the Denver area because of an ongoing dispute between Altitude Sports and providers Comcast/Dish. Altitude had exclusive rights to Game 3, meaning only subscribers to DirecTV could watch.
Game 5 in Denver could face a similar blackout for some fans.
Nurkic said took issue with what he claimed analyst Kendrick Perkins said about his defense after Game 3.
“I guess in this league today, he’d be a mascot,” Nurkic said. “I don’t know why he claimed the things like that, and I like him as a person, too.”
Nuggets: Will Barton remained out for the Nuggets with a hamstring injury, although he was close to a return. … Jamal Murray stayed back in Denver to continue his recovery from ACL surgery. Murray was also concerned about the local TV situation, tweeting: “We gotta find a way to get our games everywhere.”
Trail Blazers: With his start Saturday, Lillard matched Kevin Duckworth atop Portland’s career list with 59 playoff starts. … Zach Collins, who has been out with a fractured left foot, put up shots before the game. There was no word on his return. … Portland’s lead at the half was its first of the series. … Fans sang “Happy Birthday” to Anthony between the third and fourth quarters.