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Jokic shines as Nuggets edge Trail Blazers 120-115 to win Game 3

The MVP favorite drops 34 points as the Nuggets take back home-court advantage from the Trail Blazers.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers
Robert Covington of the Portland Trail Blazers plays defense on Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets during Round 1, Game 3 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 27, 2021 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon.
Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

Nikola Jokic followed up his masterful performance in Game 2 with another strong showing.

The MVP favorite dropped 34 points to lead the Denver Nuggets past the Portland Trail Blazers 120-115 in Game 3. His putback layup after a late missed free throw sealed the victory after Portland mounted a furious comeback late.

Austin Rivers contributed 21 points and Michael Porter Jr. added 15 as the Nuggets shot percent from 52.6 percent behind the arc in the win. Damian Lillard continued to light up the scoreboard for Portland, scoring 37 points in the loss. He didn’t tally a double-double, but was the leading scorer in the game. Norman Powell broke out with 18 points, but it wasn’t enough for the Trail Blazers.

Denver had an 11-point lead about halfway through the third quarter, but could never pull away. The Trail Blazers had tied the game 91-91 in the fourth quarter, but Jokic and Rivers took over.

The duo put in 13 of Denver’s next 15 points in what looked like the game’s final run, but Portland cut an eight-point gap to three with 3.9 seconds left. Monte Morris missed both ensuing free throws, but Jokic was able to put back the second miss.

The Nuggets covered the spread (+4) in the victory and more importantly grab a 2-1 lead in the series. After dropping Game 1, Denver has reclaimed home-court advantage with back-to-back wins.

Game 4 is Saturday in Portland at 4:00 PM ET.