Breakfast Special: NBA Up! All Night

The Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers played 68 minutes of basketball in Game 3, and when Portland won 140-137 on a late three-pointer in the fourth overtime by Rodney Hood, you had to get the feeling that the Nuggets’ fate—Portland in six—was sealed.

This is doubly true when you consider that Nikola Jokic played 65 minutes—the second-most in a playoff game and third-most overall, and the longest time logged in a playoff contest since 1953 (Bob Cousy, 66 minutes against Syracuse)—while scoring 33 points, hauling down 18 rebounds, dishing 14 assists…and seeing his team lose.

Enes Kanter‘s sore shoulder had 18 points on 8-of-16 and 15 rebounds. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 69 points on 63 shots (McCollum had 41 on 16-of-39 shooting while Lillard had 28 on 10-of-24.) And despite four overtimes, the Blazers bench only went nine deep, four DNP-CDs showing that Terry Stotts was going to win this one with the guys who most deserved to be there.

The Blazers didn’t shoot well. As a team, they hit just 41.9 percent of their shots and 28.6 percent of their threes.

But just like in 48-minute games, you can win a 68-minute game with a combination of ball control and sound fundamentals, and that’s how Portland got through this one, winning the turnover battle 20-13 and the free throw battle 24-of-28 to 14-of-20.

You gotta make your free throws, Denver. When one team shoots 85.7 percent and the team that lost shoots 70 percent, any one of those four overtimes could’ve swung the other way.

It is worth pointing out that any game that features only 48 free throws awarded in 68 minutes can’t be all bad even without the super-sized scoop of drama every fifth minute.

But speaking of game-swingers, if the Blazers had lost this one, they could point at Al-Farouq Aminu and Seth Curry, who shot a combined 3-of-15 overall and 1-of-10 from three and say a lot about guys costing the team a game.

Basically, this series isn’t over, but the Blazers are going to have to get their offensive house in order if they’re going to complete the deed. The Nuggets probably aren’t losing at home again, not in Game 5 and certainly not in Game 7 if it goes that far.

You want highlights, that’s why you’re here, so here are some highlights:

Euro-Stepping Across the Universe

Milwaukee traveled to Boston for Game 3 and didn’t get called for it.

The Celtics lost Game 3 (and home-court advantage) 123-116 to the Bucks, this despite shooting 30-of-32 from the free throw line against 24-of-36 for Milwaukee.

When you shoot that many free throws that well and still lose, something must have gone horribly wrong, and that something was Kyrie Irving‘s shot.

Irving was 8-of-22 in the ballgame and 2-of-8 from three, getting to 29 points because he hit 11-of-12 at the line.

Boston’s bench shot a combined 4-of-17 (23.5 percent) and scored 16 points, while the Bucks’ reserves tallied 42 points—George Hill outscored Boston’s bench by himself with 21—on 16-of-26 (61.5 percent) shooting.

Celtics fans complained about the refs, and they may have had a legitimate beef. Giannis Antetokounmpo hit 16-of-22 free throws, notching half of his 32 points at the line in a game where he shot 8-of-13 from the field.

That’s 2.46 points per FGA and a 1.231 FTR. Eat your heart out, James Harden!

Antetokounmpo’s Eurostep is either the most egregious uncalled travel in the sport (including Harden’s stepbacks) or a completely unguardable power move where the right defense is to just slide in and hope you get set for the charge before you get called for the block and send Greekazoid to the line.

Oh, and speaking of the Freak, he also had 13 rebounds and eight assists, nearly notching a triple-double.

This was a game that wasn’t as close as the score on the road by a team hell bent for leather on establishing Game 1 as a fluke.

And it sure does look like Bucks in 5 after this mess the Celtics put up defensively.

Quick, someone call Scott Foster and Tony Brothers.

Tenacious defense by the Celtics:

Dear Rockets fans, this is what the MVP looks like:

More games. More breakfast. More midweek super-sized Statistical Tests. More Pace and Space, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!