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Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard thought he’d won the game with a late three. Then, Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray hit a later one.
Murray made a tough step-back three-pointer with 0.9 seconds left to give the Nuggets a 121-120 victory over Portland.
Seconds earlier, Lillard had hit a difficult shot over Murray to give Portland a two-point lead. It looked like another “Dame Time” performance for Lillard, who scored 14 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter.
But Murray also scored 14 in the quarter, including the game-winner, which didn’t leave Portland enough time to attempt a response.
Nuggets-Blazers has quietly become one of the NBA’s best rivalries. Portland defeated Denver in seven games in a ferocious second-round series in 2019, which featured a quadruple-overtime slugfest in Game 3. The Nuggets returned the favor in 2021, knocking out the Blazers in six games, despite Lillard scoring 55 in one game and averaging 34.3 points for the series. And in 2017, Portland aced Denver out of the eighth seed by one game, denying them the chance to be swept by the Warriors in the first round.
The rivalry even extends to transactions. Portland’s center, Jusuf Nurkic, was originally a Nugget before Nikola Jokic emerged as a star (though he offered to come off the bench). Denver traded him to Portland. Denver also had former Blazer Will Barton for years, after a trade that Lillard resented for years.
The two teams renew their rivalry on Dec. 23 in Denver.