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Aaron Gordon pauses Dame Time, helps Denver Nuggets get even with Portland Trail Blazers

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In the Denver Nuggets’ 128-109 Game 2 win Monday over the Portland Trail Blazers, Nikola Jokic had 38 points, with eight rebounds and five assists. Aaron Gordon finished with 13 points, six rebounds and two assists. And the Nuggets insist that Gordon was just as vital to them tying the series 1-1 as Jokic was.

It was mainly because of Gordon’s work on the defensive end on Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who scored 32 of his 42 points in the first half. His first-half scoring barrage included eight 3-pointers, tying an NBA playoff record for most in a half.

Gordon guarded Lillard in the second half, stifling his 3-pointers and allowing the Nuggets to run away with the game.

Aaron Gordon (50) limited Damian Lillard to just 10 points and 1 3-pointer after halftime.
Aaron Gordon (50) limited Damian Lillard to just 10 points and 1 3-pointer after halftime.

“To hold him to 10 points in the second half and only one made 3 was critical to us getting that win,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

Lillard finished 9-for-16 from 3-point range.

“Dame was going crazy in the first half. It almost looked like we didn’t have an answer for him,” Gordon said. “I looked at the coaching staff and said, ‘I got him.’"

His work on the defensive end is the reason the Nuggets made a deal at the trade deadline to acquire Gordon from the Orlando Magic. And Gordon proved to be a difference-maker in Game 2.

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“That’s one of the reasons we brought ‘A.G.’ here, that defensive versatility,” Malone said after the game. “Obviously, he embraced it. He wanted it.”

State of the series: Tied at 1-1. Game 3 is Thursday in Portland (10:30 p.m. ET, NBATV)

Here's the breakdown of all the best from Monday's other NBA playoff game:

Bucks 132, Heat 98

After the Bucks won an overtime thriller in Game 1, they ran away with Game 2, blowing out the Heat with a hail storm of 3-pointers. Milwaukee made a franchise playoff-record 22 3s, including 10 in the first quarter as the Bucks grabbed a 46-20 lead. The Heat had their issues offensively (just eight 3-pointers, 40.2% shooting from the field) but it starts defensively. Sometimes a team just gets hot, but Miami can’t let the Bucks score like that. Bryn Forbes made six 3s, Pat Connaughton made five 3s and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Nine Bucks made a 3. As the series shifts to Miami for the next games, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo need to set the tone defensively. It’s great start to the series for Milwaukee. Game 3 will say a lot about the direction of this series.

State of the series: Milwaukee leads 2-0. Game 3 is Thursday in Miami (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT)

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Here's a look ahead to the Tuesday games:

Celtics at Nets

The Nets didn’t have a great offensive game yet Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden still combined for 82 of Brooklyn’s 104 points. The Nets relied on defense against the short-handed Celtics who need to find scoring from players other than Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker with Jaylen Brown sidelined for the rest of the season. As Brooklyn’s Big 3 find better offensive rhythm, that Celtics face a tougher task.

State of the series: Nets lead 1-0. Game 2 is Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT). The series moves to Boston for Game 3 on Friday.

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Lakers at Suns

It’s well-documented that Anthony Davis and LeBron James – especially James given his playoff credentials – bounce back strongly after a postseason loss. But don’t just pin the Lakers’ Game 1 loss on Davis. The Suns earned it. With Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, a deep bench and solid coaching, Phoenix is the No. 2 seed for a reason. The Lakers have their hands full.

State of the series: Suns lead 1-0. Game 2 is Tuesday in Phoenix (10 p.m. ET, TNT). The series moves to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Thursday.

Mavericks at Clippers

Signs of the same ol’, same ol’ from the Clippers? Well, they get a chance in Game 2 to avoid a serious series deficit before heading to Dallas for two games. The Mavs don’t go super deep and Maxi Kleber is questionable for Game 2. Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris need to be better, the Clippers can’t shoot 27.5% on 3-pointers and limiting Luka Doncic is key to the Clippers’ success.

State of the series: Mavericks lead 1-0. Game 2 is Tuesday in Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. ET, NBATV). The series moves to Dallas for Game 3 on Friday.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA scores: Aaron Gordon defense, Nikola Jokic offense lead Nuggets