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The Denver Nuggets are playing playoff-caliber basketball. One more win and they’ll be doing it for real.

Facing elimination and an 11-point deficit midway through the third quarter Monday night http://www.cardinalsauthorizedshops.com/...ic-josh-rosen-jersey , the Nuggets rallied past the Portland Trail Blazers 88-82 for their sixth consecutive victory.

”That was another playoff game. That was just tough, physical for 48 minutes,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

One more win Wednesday night at Minnesota and the Nuggets will end a five-year playoff drought.

The Trail Blazers have lost four straight but still harbor hopes of clinching the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

”At the end of the day this team is going to make a shot. I’m not worried about that,” said Jusuf Nurkic, who had 20 points and 19 rebounds. ”We have one more at home (against Utah) and it’s probably going to be for the third spot. We’re going to fight for that.”

The Nuggets kept their season alive thanks to Nikola Jokic’s 10th triple-double of the season and a stifling defense on a night their starters made just 22 of 61 shots.

”I told them at halftime, I was honest, I said, `Fellas, if we lose, we’re out.’ I knew some of these other teams had won games. And I felt we played like our lives were on the line www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authenti...kevious-mingo-jersey ,” Malone said. ”It wasn’t pretty, but I thought our defense was phenomenal.”

The Trail Blazers scored 25 points off 18 offensive rebounds but managed only one bucket and two offensive boards in the fourth quarter, when they were held to 13 points.

Jokic scored 15 points, pulled down a season-best 20 rebounds and had 11 assists. Will Barton added 22 points, leading a comeback from an 11-point third-quarter deficit.

”It was a playoff tuneup,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. ”Both teams competed at a high level. I was proud of the way we defended, especially when you’re having trouble making shots. I’m actually encouraged by the way we played, the way we fought. If we get those looks most of the time we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

Damian Lillard led Portland with 25 points.

Jokic secured his 16th career triple-double when he fed Devin Harris for a 3-pointer that put the Nuggets ahead 73-71 with eight minutes left, their first lead of the second half.

They didn’t trail again.

The Nuggets’ big win came exactly one year after Russell Westbrook’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave Oklahoma City a 106-105 win at Denver that eliminated the Nuggets from last year’s playoff party.

This time, it was Denver that came up big in the end.

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: F Ed Davis returned to action after missing four games with a sprained right ankle Authentic Kody Clark Jersey , and Stotts said the boost he provided was bigger than his 5.4-point and 7.4-rebound averages. ”What he offers on the court is unique, as far as his rebounding, his screen setting, his finishing around the paint, all those things,” Stotts said. ”His presence in the locker room, his presence on the bench. Just the intangibles. He’s been a very integral part of what we’ve done this year.”

Nuggets: Malone said he decided to bring Gary Harris off the bench rather than start him because he didn’t want to mess with the chemistry the Nuggets had developed while going 7-4 in his absence. … Barton had averaged 18.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists while starting in Harris’ place the previous 11 games.

TECHNICAL SPARK: Malone drew a technical for arguing a no-foul call when Jamal Murray went down hard with 6:18 left in the third quarter and the Nuggets trailing 62-53.

The Nuggets outscored Portland 35-20 afterward.

”Coaches are funny that way,” Devin Harris said. ”I thought it was the right thing to do. Obviously, I thought Jamal got fouled. But he used it to kind of fire us up and we needed a little bit of an energy pick-up right there and I thought Coach gave it to us.”

NO HELP:

The teams ahead of Denver in the playoff race haven’t done the Nuggets any favors. A loss to Portland would have eliminated the Nuggets from playoff contention because the Spurs Anthony Miller Color Rush Jersey , Timberwolves, Thunder and Pelicans all won Monday night.

They won’t be watching the scoreboard Wednesday night, either.

”We can’t anticipate them helping us,” Devin Harris said. ”We dug ourselves into this hole; we’ve got to dig ourselves out.”

”We wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Gary Harris, who returned from an 11-game absence with 12 points. ”If we win we’re in.”

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Play Utah at home Wednesday night in their regular season finale.

Nuggets: Can end their playoff drought with a win at Minnesota on Wednesday night.



Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler expressed little concern about his one-game suspension, his shoulder injury or his future with the franchise.

The 23-year-old Fowler was equally nonchalant about the progress he seemingly made in the past year.

”Did I go to jail?” he said following the team’s first training camp practice Thursday. ”There we go.”

Fowler spoke publicly for the first time since the NFL suspended him without pay for the season opener at the New York Giants, a one-game penalty for attacking a man in a parking lot near his hometown in July 2017.

Fowler eventually pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of battery, criminal mischief and petty theft. The case was closed in March, with Fowler sentenced to a year of probation and 75 hours of community service.

The NFL handed down its punishment last week.

”We really already knew it was going to happen Erik Gonzalez Cleveland Indians Jersey ,” said Fowler, who will be eligible to play Week 2 against New England. ”It’s a situation that happened last year so the NFL finally took it into their hands this year. We talked and they told me what it was going to be. I just appreciate them hearing me out, hearing my side of the story. It could have always been worse, so I’m going to just take this game and be ready when we come back for the Patriots.”

The suspension will cost him $214,000.

Missing additional games could cost him even more.

The Jaguars declined to exercise the fifth-year option in Fowler’s rookie contract in May, likely meaning the third overall pick in the 2015 draft will become a free agent after this season.

A career year could mean a lucrative deal elsewhere.

”Go out there and play as best as I can every Sunday,” he said. ”That’s it.”

Fowler has 53 tackles and 12 sacks in two seasons. He missed his rookie year after tearing a ligament in his left knee during the first day of a rookie minicamp.

He played in every game since his return, but mostly as a backup to Pro Bowler Yannick Ngakoue. The Jags apparently don’t view Fowler in the team’s long-term plans, which is why they declined to pay him $14.2 million in 2019.

His off-filed troubles are partly to blame.

The former Florida standout was arrested last year after confronting a 55-year-old man who made a comment about his driving. St. Petersburg police said Fowler exchanged words with the man before hitting him and knocking off his glasses. Fowler then stepped on the glasses before taking the man’s grocery bag and tossing it in a lake.

Fowler also was arrested in Miami Beach in March 2016 and charged with misdemeanor counts of assault against a police officer and resisting arrest without violence. The charges were later dropped. That arrest came a little more than two weeks after a video surfaced showing Fowler refereeing a violent fight between his girlfriend and an ex-girlfriend. He also has a long list of traffic violations.

”It is something where you have to go out every day and you have to prove (yourself) until you get to a level of consistency where there is trust,” coach Doug Marrone said. ”I think it is a matter of doing the right things each and every day http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/auth...hall-newhouse-jersey , and we will see how it goes.”

Fowler’s health is his biggest concern these days.

He injured his left shoulder late last season and opened camp on the physically unable to perform list. Incapable of lifting weights for part of the offseason, Fowler lost some pounds. But much like everything else, he doesn’t see it as a concern.

”Well, I’m actually big,” he said with a smile. ”I honestly think it won’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Weight does not matter with this one. I’m a straight dog. It don’t matter. Once I put on them pads, it’s a wrap. I’m just getting stronger. Coaches are looking out for me and being concerned and looking out for my health, so all I can do is just get stronger and you guys will know when I’m out there again.”



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