Tagged in: Nuggets

Nuggets eliminate Trail Blazers in Game 6 with 126-115 win

Nikola Jokic had 36 points and the Denver Nuggets eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in six matches with a 126-115 triumph Thursday night.

Michael Porter Jr. added 26 points, including 22 in the opening quarter, for the third-seeded Nuggets. They await the outcome of the first-round series between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.

Denver advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the third consecutive season.

Damian Lillard finished with 28 points and 13 assists for the sixth-seeded Blazers. They led by 14 points in the third quarter but couldn’t stave off elimination. Monte Morris hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close Denver to 101-98 heading into the last period. Jokic hit a 3-pointer to put Denver ahead 108-106 and Denver stretched it to 117-108 on Austin Rivers’ 3 with 3:52 left.

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Portland tired to catch up, getting to 121-115 on CJ McCollum’s layup, but Aaron Gordon hit a 3-pointer that all but sealed it for Denver with less than a minute to go.

The Nuggets took a 3-2 lead in the series with a 147-140 double overtime victory in Denver on Tuesday night.

It spoiled Lillard’s epic playoff performance: He had 55 points, including 12 3-pointers, and 10 assists. It was the most 3-pointers ever in a playoff game.

The Blazers needed big man Jusuf Nurkic to stay out of foul trouble. Tasked with defending Jokic, he fouled out in three of the first five matches.

Nurkic didn’t have a foul in the first half, but then had four quick fouls in the third quarter and had to head to the bench.

Porter had six 3-pointers in the first quarter alone, tying an NBA playoff record for most 3s a quarter. Lillard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Blazers a 68-61 lead at the half. He raised his arms to encourage the crowd as he headed off the floor.

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Bulls tab Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas to lead basketball ops

The Chicago Bulls are hiring Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas to become the franchise’s new executive vice president of basketball operations, league sources told ESPN.

The sides were completing contractual details on a multi-year deal late on Wednesday night, after offering the job to Karnisovas shortly after completing a second-round of interviews, sources said.

Karnisovas, 48, will replace John Paxson, who has been running the Bulls basketball operations since 2003. He will be tasked with hiring a new general manager and reshaping the totality of an organization that’s fallen out of the playoffs for the past two campaigns.

The Bulls were taken with Karnisovas’ history for talent evaluation and strong endorsements from Nuggets Governor Josh Kroenke and President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly about his leadership, organization and ability to structure operations, sources said.

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Karnisovas had a lengthy virtual interview with Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf – who’s leading the search — on Tuesday, sources said.

On Wednesday, Michael Reinsdorf introduced Karnisovas to his father, Jerry, for additional discussions and got the blessing to offer Karnisovas the job.

Reinsdorf completed an initial round of virtual meetings on Wednesday after an interview with former Atlanta Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, sources said.

Karnisovas’ diverse background in the game had caught the Bulls attention from the beginning of this process, including his role in building the Denver Nuggets into a contender with President Tim Connelly and Governor Josh Kroenke. The Nuggets draft success has included All-NBA center Nikola Jokic, guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris and former center Jusuf Nurkic.

Karnisovas had stops with the Houston Rockets front office and league office and a decorated EuroLeague and Olympic-medal winning playing career. Karnisovas, a native of Lithuania, left home as a teenager to play college basketball at Seton Hall.

Karnisovas will be asked to reshape the Bulls front office, including hiring a new general manager and additional basketball operations and scouting positions, sources said.

Paxson is expected to move into an advisory role and there will be discussions with GM Gar Forman about his future with the organization too, sources said.

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