By Justin Adams

(CBS4) – As Damian Lillard was mystifying the Ball Arena crowd with his 55 points and a playoff-record 12-three pointers in the playoffs, the frontrunner for NBA MVP was pulling off his own heroics in front of the home crowd. Nikola Jokic had 38 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, and had four blocks as the Denver Nuggets were able to hold off the Portland Trail Blazers 147-140 in double overtime of Game 5 of the First Round series. The Nuggets were able to withstand Lillard connecting on a three-pointer to send the game into overtime and double overtime.

Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets puts up a shot against Jusuf Nurkic of the Portland Trail Blazers in the second quarter during Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 1, 2021.

Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets puts up a shot against Jusuf Nurkic of the Portland Trail Blazers at Ball Arena Tuesday night. (credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

“We are fighting,” Jokic said. “Everybody is giving 100%. We are fighting. No one can take that from us, our fight.”

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“Every time they threw a haymaker and put us down on the canvas, we got up and obviously we were able to pull it out in the end,” said Nuggets head coach Michael Malone.

One of the biggest plays of the game wasn’t a made basket by Jokic, but a pass to Michael Porter Jr. who hit the corner three to give the Nuggets a 143-140 lead that they would never relinquish in double overtime.

“I said I got to make up for buzzard beater Dame hit,” Porter said, who scored 26 points.

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The pass was so impressive, Porter Jr.’s Dad commented about it on Twitter.

“Obviously LOVED the late corner 3 by Michael Jr., but did you see the pass? Jokic waited until Aaron Gordon cut, which drew Robert Covington a step or two toward the lane, and then he floated the perfect pass over RoCo (Robert Covington). Nicola (sic) Jokic has a BEAUTIFUL basketball mind!” he said.

With the Nuggets leading the series 3-2 they will now look to close out the series on Thursday night in Portland. Coach Malone and the Nuggets know just how difficult that is. Two years ago, the Nuggets were up 3-2 on the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Semifinals and lost Game 6 and Game 7. This time around they hope to change their fortunes behind the play of their Most Valuable Player.

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“We all look up to him on and off the court. (He’s) Consistent and I’m so happy to be a teammate of his. Best player in the world,” Porter said.

Justin Adams