Denver NuggetsNBAPortland Trail Blazers

McCollum leads Blazers to Western Conference Finals

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Being the #3 seed in the NBA Playoffs, the Portland Trailblazers overcame an early 17-point first half deficit as they topped second-seeded Denver Nuggets 100-96 in Game 7, to head to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2000. 

The Nuggets got off to a hot start early as they raced out to 14-7 first quarter lead. Denver’s defense would hold Portland to 7-of-29 shooting. Denver guard Jamal Murray’s coast-to-coast layup would propel the Nuggets to a 29-17 lead after one quarter. 

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The Nuggets’ reserves extended their lead to 39-22. However, the Blazers would go on a nine-point run of their own. Portland guard CJ McCollum would make it a nine-point game as a layup is deflected off the boards and into the net. 

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Denver would go on hold to the lead at the halftime buzzer, 48-39. 

Portland continued to trim down the lead after the break, all the way down to four after Blazers guard Damian Lillard set up forward Maurice Harkless with a dunk to make it 63-59 Denver. 

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With the lead down to two in the game, Denver guard Gary Harris unleashed an acrobatic shot to make it 65-61 Nuggets. Denver would lead 72-71 at the end of the third quarter. 

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The Blazers went on a 10-4 run to start the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter would be back-and-forth exciting which also saw a key block by McCollum and Lillard recording a steal and a three-point shot to give Portland a 92-87 lead. 

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Denver would not back down in the final minutes of the game, sustaining a 10-4 run of their own. 

Leading 96-95, it came down to the last minute as McCollum drove in the paint and hit the step-back jump shot to seal the game at a 98-95 lead.  

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Guard Evan Turner sank two free throws which helped the Denver Nuggets, 100-96, in seven games. 

McCollum led with a game-high 37 points, followed by Turner with 14 points and Lillard with 13. 

Center Nikola Jokic led Denver with 29 points, and Murray followed up with 17. 

After the seven-game series win, Portland will be in the Western Conference Finals, facing the defending NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors are coming their own six-game series win over the fourth-seeded Houston Rockets. They also secured the win without star forward Kevin Durant.  

Game 1 is scheduled for Tuesday night at 9 p.m. in Oakland. 

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