DENVER — C.J. McCollum scored 20 points on 8-for-20 shooting, hitting 3 of 7 from the 3-point arc, to go along with six assists and six rebounds to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 97-90 victory over the host Nuggets on Wednesday night.
The victory enabled the Blazers to tie the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series at one game apiece.
The series will shift to Portland Friday night for Game 3.
Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood chipped in with 15 points apiece for the Blazers while Damian Lillard added 14.
Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 16 points, 14 rebounds (10 offensive) and 7 assists, while teammate Jamal Murray added 15 and Paul Milsap had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
With Jokic taking — and missing — just one shot in the first quarter and scoring six points in the first half, the Nuggets trailed 50-35 at halftime after the franchise’s worst quarter ever at home in the playoffs, one in which they made just 5 of 23 shots and missed all 10 of their 3-pointers.
To top it off, they lost sparkplug forward Torrey Craig, whose nose was bloodied after he was knocked down and slammed into teammate Monte Morris’ foot early in the second quarter.
Moments after Craig hobbled off, leaving a trail of blood, Maurice Harkless rolled his right ankle and also left the game. Harkless didn’t return but Craig came back in the second half.
Jokic had just six points at the half, when the Nuggets were booed off the court after missing their final eight shots.
Denver’s backcourt was just 5 of 18 in the first half, including 2 of 11 from Murray, who would miss much of the fourth quarter while trying to loosen up his tight right thigh he hurt in the last series.
Craig, whose insertion into the starting lineup turned around the Nuggets’ first-round series against San Antonio, returned with a face mask with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. He immediately grabbed a rebound and his 3-pointer with a minute left in the quarter was Denver’s first since 1:11 of the first quarter.