LOS ANGELES, (AFP) - CJ McCollum delivered 41 points as the Portland Trail Blazers edged the Denver Nuggets 140-137 in four overtimes Friday in the longest NBA playoff game in 66 years.
The game featured 24 lead changes but the Blazers came out on top to take a 2-1 lead in the second round Western Conference series.
“I have never been involved a game like that in regular season or playoffs,” said Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “It was an amazing effort by both teams.”
It was just the second quadruple-overtime playoff game in NBA history, joining a 1953 game between the Boston Celtics and the Syracuse Nationals.
Damian Lillard added 28 points for Portland who can go up 3-1 with a victory in game four at home on Sunday.
“That was the craziest game I have ever been a part of,” said Lillard.
Jamal Murray scored 34 points, and Nikola Jokic collected 33 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists for the Nuggets, who used their inside game to keep the score close in the extra sessions.
“We fought, we fought, we fought. That’s all you can ask for. It was a hell of basketball game by two very good basketball teams,” said Denver coach Mike Malone.
McCollum played over 60 minutes and connected on 16 of 39 field goals as he went on a run in the fourth quarter and the beginning of the first overtime. He said he wasn’t tired.
“This is what I am built for,” said McCollum. “This is why I condition all summer. That is why I work on my diet. That is why I get my sleep and my massages.
“This is what we live for. We got to get some sleep and take advantage of our time. They are coming off a seven game series and so we will see them in a couple of days.”
Jokic also logged massive minutes, playing a historic 65, the most ever by a seven footer in the playoffs.
Will Barton made one of two free throws, giving Denver a 134-133 lead with one minute left in the fourth overtime. Rodney Hood’s baseline jumper then put Portland in front 135-134 with 44 seconds to go.
Paul Millsap’s layup gave the Nuggets into a 136-135 lead with 27 seconds to play.
Hood nailed a shot from beyond the arc to give Portland a 138-136 lead with 17 seconds remaining.
Jokic had a chance to tie it but missed one of two free throws to make it 138-137 with five seconds on the clock.
Portland’s Seth Curry then nailed a pair of clutch free throws for a 140-137 lead with 2.8 seconds left. Denver’s feeble attempt at a long inbounds pass was intercepted and the clock ran out.
Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Milwaukee to a 123-116 victory in Boston that put the Bucks 2-1 up in their playoff series against the Celtics.
The top-seeded Bucks scored 40 points in the third quarter and pulled away for a victory that saw them regain home-court advantage in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference second round series, in which they were stung at home in game one.
“I’m just trusting myself, I just have confidence in myself,” said Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player candidate Antetokounmpo. “That’s what my teammates want me to do.
“They want me to stay aggressive, they want me to make the right play — that’s what I’m going to keep doing the whole series.”
Boston led 56-55 at halftime, leading by as many as 12 before the Bucks battled back to narrow the gap.
Milwaukee’s 40 third-quarter points were the most scored by either team in a single period in the series.
They connected on 11 of 18 from the field with Milwaukee guard George Hill draining a pair of three-pointers in a 12-0 scoring run.
Boston scored 31 points in the period, but Milwaukee held the Celtics without a field goal in the final 3:44 of the quarter — then opened the fourth on an 11-3 scoring run, stretching their lead to as many as 17 points.
The Celtics again cut the deficit to single digits, Al Horford’s three-pointer with 10.6 seconds left pulling Boston within 116-121.
But Antetokounmpo, who scored half his points at the free throw line, made two last foul shots to close it out.
Antetokounmpo added eight assists and three blocked shots.
Hill connected on nine of 12 from the field to score 21 off the bench and Khris Middleton added 20 points for the Bucks.
Kyrie Irving led Boston with 29 points.