Rodney Hood checked into the game with two minutes left in the fourth overtime with his team down by two. He had played only 22 minutes, so he hopped over to the baseline to take the inbounds pass.
Then, he won the game — a 140-137 quadruple-overtime thrilling Game 3 victory for the Portland Trail Blazers over the Denver Nuggets on Friday to grab a 2-1 lead in the second-round series.
Hood scored seven straight points for the Blazers in the fourth overtime, knocking down a jumper to tie the game at 133-133 with a minute left and then giving the Blazers a one-point lead on the next possession. And, finally, the game-winner, an open 3-pointer on the right wing off a rebound by CJ McCollum with 18.6 seconds to play.
Hood said he felt good about coming into the game late, and that if he got a chance, he was going to end it.
“That game needed fresh energy,” he said. “I was excited when I went back in.”
“It was a hell of a game,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I’ve never been involved in a game like that.”
Nikola Jokic was fouled on the other end but missed a free throw. It was just about the lone blemish for Jokic, who played 65 minutes and logged a triple-double — 33 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists.
"I have no regrets,” said Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. “We left everything, I left everything out on that floor.”
Like in the first three overtimes, neither team gained separation in the fourth overtime. Fresh players, such as Denver’s Torrey Craig and Portland’s Hood, entered the game.
Until then, it was CJ McCollum who carried the Blazers in the extra sessions. McCollum had a game-high 41 points in 60 minutes.
"That's why I condition all summer,” McCollum said on ESPN after the game. “This is what I work for."
But until the end, the Nuggets had answers. Whether it was Gary Harris, Jamal Murray or Paul Millsap, Denver kept up despite Jokic’s fatigue.
“Nikola Jokic played 65 minutes,” Malone said. “That’s unheard of. That’s ridiculous. I can’t do that to him. That’s too many minutes.”
McCollum drilled back-to-back jumpers in the third overtime, the latter a 3-pointer to give the Blazers a 125-121 advantage with three minutes left. The Nuggets still clawed back, though, scoring the next six points to grab the lead. McCollum committed a turnover late, leading to a Millsap basket to give Denver a four-point lead.
But Damian Lillard answered with consecutive layups after the Nuggets turned it over themselves. And Murray missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to a fourth overtime — the first one in the NBA playoffs since 1953.
The Blazers opened up separation in double overtime, with McCollum cleaning up a rebound and Lillard knocking down a deep 3-pointer to give Portland a 116-111 lead. But it would not be for long, as the Nuggets scored five straight to even the score.
Lillard missed a fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer to force a third overtime. It was the first playoff game to head to a third overtime in six years.
Millsap’s layup gave the Nuggets a 109-107 lead with 47 seconds remaining in overtime, taking advantage of a smaller defender in Hood after Enes Kanter had checked out of the game. But after Lillard missed a jumper, he stole the ball on the other end, leading to a game-tying floater by McCollum.
McCollum scored all seven of the Blazers’ points in overtime.
In regulation, Lillard’s driving floater put the Blazers ahead 102-100 with 30 seconds left, but Will Barton finished a layup off a pass inside by Jokic to send the game to overtime.
The teams went back and forth in the fourth quarter, with McCollum and Jokic trading baskets. With the game tied at 95-95, Murray drilled a jumper and then a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Nuggets a five-point lead with two minutes to play. But Maurice Harkless answered. He made a 3-pointer and then a game-tying basket on the next possession.
The Blazers opened up a double-digit lead in the third, with Kanter scoring eight straight points and Lillard coming alive. But Jokic kept the Nuggets in it with three 3-pointers in the quarter. He scored 17 points in the third as Denver trailed 81-76 entering the fourth.
Both teams shot at under 40 percent in a physical first half. The Blazers scored the final seven points of the first quarter to lead 23-17 after one, but the Nuggets answered in the second quarter thanks to Jamal Murray.
Murray scored 16 points in the first half, hitting back-to-back triples to give the Nuggets a 38-37 lead. His scoop layup before halftime put Denver ahead 48-47 going into the third quarter.
“Two teams fighting for their season,” Lillard said. “Nobody said it was going to be pretty, nobody said it was going to be easy. It was going to come down to which team went a little deeper.”
That team, on this long, long night, was the Trail Blazers.
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