By Justin Adams

(CBS4) – The Denver Nuggets had a problem: they had no answer for the barrage of shots Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard was making in the second quarter of Game 2 of the first-round series. It wasn’t until Aaron Gordon spoke up at halftime that everything changed.

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers drives on Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena on May 24, 2021.

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers drives on Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena on Monday. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

“I looked at the coaching staff and said, ‘I got him,'” Gordon said.

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Gordon’s second-half defense on Lillard limited him enough for the Nuggets to come out with a 128-109 win to even the series at one apiece.

In the second quarter, Lillard had 22 points and made six three-pointers. In the first half, he had 32 points and was 9-of-16 from the floor. Guarded mostly by Facundo Campazzo and Austin Rivers, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone agreed to make the change to put Gordon on Lillard.

“This is something Aaron Gordon has been wanting to do and he just made it hard,” Malone said. “Listen, Dame Lillard is an incredible player, we saw that in that first half. But I think Aaron’s size makes it a little bit tougher to get those shots off,” Malone said.

With Gordon using his 6-foot-8, 235 pound frame to defend Lillard in the second half, Damian scored 8 points in the third quarter and was held to only 2 points in the fourth quarter.

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“I love those matchups, man. I really don’t care what the matchup is, it could be a one, it could be point guard, it could be a center, I’m here for it all,” Gordon said.

With the series shifting to Portland for Games 3 and 4, the Trail Blazers look to make several adjustments to give their All-Star point guard enough space to make plays at the Moda Center.

“We have to get a little bit more movement,” Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. “Dame is a great player, and we’ll figure it out.”

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers drives against Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter during Game Two of their Western Conference first-round playoff series at Ball Arena on May 24, 2021.

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers drives against Aaron Gordon on Monday. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

But the Nuggets feel confident that Gordon’s defensive prowess on defense will continue.

“They know that I am capable of a lot of things out there on the basketball floor. If I bring my IQ, my energy, my athleticism, and my skill set, that combination makes for a lot of good things that can happen out on the floor,” Gordon said.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Nuggets 128, Trail Blazers 109

Justin Adams