HOOP HANGOUT • NBA PLAYOFFS • GAMEDAY POST • May 12th 2019

SportsLine

CJ McCollum leads Blazers past Nuggets 100-96 in Game 7

Associated Press

DENVER — Damian Lillard‘s shots kept banging off the backboard, rattling off the rim, going everywhere but through the hoop.

The Portland Trail Blazers are going to the Western Conference Finals anyway because CJ McCollum had his back.

McCollum scored 37 points and added a crucial chase-down block in the closing minutes that helped the Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 100-96 in Game 7 on Sunday to advance to their first conference championship since 2000.

They’ll open Tuesday night at Golden State against the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors in a series pitting Portland’s Seth Curry against his big brother, Golden State star Steph Curry.

Lillard scored 13 points and made just 3 of 17 shots from the field, but two of them were critical 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that put Portland ahead 81-76 and 92-85.

“It’s a luxury to have two guys like that who can find different ways to score in different ways,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “CJ does it one way, Dame does it in another. On a night when Dame struggled shooting the ball CJ came up big.”

The Blazers were down 48-39 at halftime and trailed by just a point heading into the fourth quarter.

That’s when the Nuggets’ hopes of reaching their first Western Conference Finals in a decade died with a 7-of-24 shooting performance, including 3 of 10 from Jokic, who tearfully blamed himself in the locker room for the loss.

It was a devastating end to Denver’s season after the Nuggets ended a six-year playoff drought and earned the second seed in the Western Conference bracket.

TIP-INS:

Portland: Rodney Hood hyperextended his left knee in the third quarter. … Evan Turner, who scored just four points in the first six games of the series, added 14 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.

Denver: The Nuggets were 2 of 19 from beyond the arc and missed 11 free throws. Portland was 4 of 26 on 3-pointers and 20 of 24 from the stripe.

Leonard hits bouncer at buzzer, Raptors beat 76ers in Game 7

TORONTO — Kawhi Leonard hit a shot from the corner over Joel Embiid at the buzzer that bounced off the rim four times before falling to give the Toronto Raptors a 92-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

After Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler tied it with a driving layup with 4.2 seconds left, Toronto used its final timeout to draw up a play for Leonard, who dribbled toward the right corner and launched the high-arching shot.

It bounced to the top of the backboard, hit the near side of the rim again, then the other side twice before going through, setting off a wild celebration as the Raptors advanced to the conference finals for the second time in four seasons. They will open the conference finals Wednesday night at Milwaukee.

Leonard scored 41 points on 16-of-39 shooting. Serge Ibaka added 17 points, and Pascal Siakam had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Embiid led the 76ers with 21 points and 11 rebounds. JJ Redick had 17 points, Butler added 16, and Tobias Harris had 14 points and 10 rebounds.