The Toronto Raptors dismantled the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets dominated Portland Tuesday to take commanding leads in their NBA playoff series.
The Raptors overpowered the 76ers 125-89 to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference second-round series.
With 76ers star center Joel Embiid ailing, Toronto took full advantage on their home floor and can book a place in the Eastern Conference finals with a victory in game six in Philadelphia on Thursday.
The Nuggets, led by Nikola Jokic’s 25 points and 19 rebounds, defeated the Trail Blazers 124-98 for a 3-2 series lead and will also try to wrap up their Western Conference clash on the road on Thursday.
Six Nuggets players scored in double figures and four scored at least 16 points.
Paul Millsap scored 12 of his 24 in the first quarter as Denver bolted to a 31-25 lead.
Jamal Murray scored 11 of his 18 in the second quarter, helping Denver break open the game with a burst of three straight baskets that pushed the Nuggets’ lead to 61-43 and Denver, who never trailed, were away.
“In this series he’s been phenomenal,” Denver coach Mike Malone said of Murray. “He’s impacted the game in so many ways: scoring, playmaking and rebounding, and I think he’s playing some pretty good defense as well.”
Damian Lillard scored 22 points for the Trail Blazers, who face an elimination game for the first time in this post-season.
Rodney Hood and Zach Collins scored 14 points each off the bench, but CJ McCollum was the only other Portland starter in double figures with 12 points.
Portland missed 12 straight shots in the third, connecting on just seven of 28 from the floor in the period to head into the fourth quarter trailing 93-65.
They couldn’t get the deficit below 20 points in the final frame.
In a hard-fought series between closely matched teams, Malone said, it was a notable achievement.
“For us to come out here tonight and build a 30-point lead and play the defense that we did for three and a half quarters was remarkable,” he said. (AFP)
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