Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon told his coaching staff at halftime of Game 2 against the Portland Trail Blazers that he would be defending Damian Lillard in the second half. Lillard dropped 32 points in the first half but still the Nuggets entered halftime with a 12-point lead.
"I got him," Gordon told the coaching staff, per ESPN. Lillard dropped 34 points in Game 1 and the Trail Blazers claimed a 123-109 win. Lillard finished Game 2 with 42 points but this time the Nuggets claimed a 128-109 win.
"Going into Game 2, we met this morning and we talked as a staff, 'let's give him different looks.' [Facundo Campazzo], he brings something different to the table, he's smaller but he's into you.
Austin Rivers brings more size," Nuggets head coach Malone said. "But at halftime, after the 32-point first half, we said, 'You know what, let's throw Aaron Gordon on him.' That's one of the reasons we brought AG here is that defensive versatility.
And obviously he embraced it, he wanted it. That's the best part about it, this is something Aaron Gordon has been wanting to do."
Lillard expected that the focus would be on him
"I think they just gave me more attention, more so than it was just one guy," Lillard said.
"I'm never going against one guy." "I expect it to continue," Lillard said. "Just moving around more off the ball, getting more off-ball sets. Usually bigger guys can use their length and athleticism on the ball, but when you start to move around on flares and pindowns and things like that, typically you can get a little bit of space."
Nikola Jokic had only one assist in Game 1 but he finished Game 2 with 38 points and five assists. "I know much was made of the one assist in Game 1 and I think that was an outrageous narrative," Malone said. "In order to get an assist, you have to make shots.
We struggled to make shots in Game 1." Lillard put up a show in the second quarter but the Nuggets ended up winning the quarter 42-36. "I had a great run, but they outscored us that quarter," Lillard said. "We didn't get stops.
I think it's a perfect example that you can fill it up, but when you trade baskets with a good team like them, especially on the road with their backs against the wall, you're probably not going to win that."