DENVER — The Nuggets' third-quarter woes reared their ugly head again.
This time, it cost them a playoff game.
After a competitive first half against the Portland Trailblazers at Ball Arena on Saturday night, Denver went cold in the third quarter -- which led to a 123-109 loss in Game 1 of the opening-round playoff series.
The Nuggets led 61-58 at halftime, but were outscored 38-25 in their dreaded third frame that created a deficit too large to recover from.
Nikola Jokic did everything an MVP candidate could do to keep his team within striking distance, putting up a game-high 34 points while snagging 16 rebounds. His biggest support came in form of Michael Porter Jr.'s 25 points.
The only other Nuggets to reach double figures were Aaron Gordon (16 points) and Monte Morris (10).
"To win a playoff game, especially when you're under-manned, you have to be on point with everything," Denver head coach Michael Malone said. "You have to have great discipline with a game plan, great discipline with your guarding personnel, and we didn't gave it.
"Guys played hard but we have to play a lot smarter."
Portland was led by Damian Lillard, who matched Jokic's 34 points along with 13 assists.
Playing in his first NBA playoff game in Denver since being traded by the Nuggets 10 years ago, Carmelo Anthony had a quick start against the team that drafted him No. 3 overall in the 2003 NBA draft.
Anthony knocked down four of his eight 3-point attempts for 18 total points -- 12 of them scored in the opening quarter.
"He gave us a boost that we needed," Portland head coach Terry Stotts said. "He gave us a rhythm...He made timely shots that came up big for us."
MESSAGE FROM MURRAY
Despite being sidelined for the season with a torn ACL, Nuggets star Jamal Murray delivered a message to fans at Ball Arena after the starting lineups were introduced.
"What we've built here in Denver is just beginning," Murray shouted as the crowd erupted in cheers. "We're just getting started!"
Denver will look to bounce back in Game 2 on Monday night. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. at Ball Arena.
>>Video above: Nuggets kick off playoff series with Blazers, Carmelo Anthony
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