Three takeaways from Trail Blazers' series-levelling victory

The Portland Trail Blazers bounced back in against the Denver Nuggets in Game 2.

Portland levelled the NBA Western Conference semi-final series thanks to Wednesday's 97-90 victory.

The playoff clash will shift back to Portland, with Game 3 set for Friday.

Here are three takeaways from the Trail Blazers' series-levelling triumph midweek.

 

Portland's role players step up

Damian Lillard (14 points) and CJ McCollum (20 points), Portland's stars, failed to find their rhythms offensively throughout the game.

The two combined for 34 points but were inefficient from the field as they knocked down just 13 of their 37 total shots.

The Trail Blazers' role players, on the other hand, had a big night, which helped them secure the win. Enes Kanter recorded 15 points and nine rebounds, while Al-Farouq Aminu chipped in 11 points, along with 10 boards for Portland.

Rodney Hood came off the bench and knocked down one of the biggest shots of the game. Denver had closed the gap to seven points with a little more than two minutes to play, but Hood connected on a corner three-pointer to extend Portland's lead back to double digits.

The forward later hit a pair of clutch free throws to seal the victory. He finished with 15 points in 27 minutes.

 

Nuggets' shooting off the mark

The Nuggets were terrible from behind the arc in Game 2.

Portland completely took the three-pointer away from the Nuggets, as they finished six of 29 from distance. Denver guard Jamal Murray was two of eight from three-point range while Gary Harris missed all five of his attempts.

The Nuggets — who shot 41.4 per cent from three-point range in Game 1 — eventually began pounding the ball inside in the second half because they were so ineffective from deep. They will need to improve their shooting in Portland. Otherwise, they definitely are at risk of falling behind in the series.

 

Denver need Jokic to score

Nikola Jokic impacted the game in multiple ways.

The Denver star dictated his team's offense from the post, as he typically does. He received multiple paint touches and either kicked the ball out to open team-mates or cutters in the lane. The center was also a factor on the glass.

Yet, Jokic did not look for his shot much until his team were trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter. In total, he finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.

Jokic is a great passer and is clearly the focal point of the Nuggets' offense. The team will need him to be more aggressive moving forward if they want to advance to the Western Conference finals.

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