Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
In the rarefied air of the Mile High City, the turnover-prone Portland Trail Blazers ran out of magic in overtime, losing a close game to the Denver Nuggets.
All the starters had solid nights for the Blazers. LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 28 points (including 4 clutch free throws), 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. Nicolas Batum quietly had a nice night, with 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Damian Lillard added 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, while Wesley Matthews 14 points. And JJ Hickson added another double-double, 19 points and 13 rebounds.
First Quarter: Before you could figure out whether the game was on Comcast Sportsnet or NBA TV, Denver already had a 13-5 lead. However, the Blazers settled down, hit some shots, and a Luke Babbitt three-pointer tied the game at 21. Unfortunately, he immediately fouled Denver on a made three-pointer, giving them back the lead. However, the Blazers suddenly looked like a well-oiled machine, with nice rebounding, outlet passing, fast breaks, and a couple three-pointers from a red-hot Lillard. The Blazers made 5-6 three pointers in the quarter, and led by 2 at the horn.
[JaVale McGee] reminds me of a puppy who hasn't grown into his oversized paws.
Second Quarter: Aldridge continued to look like an All-Star, with multiple nice plays to push the Blazer lead to 7. However, it's in Denver, and the Nuggets weren't going away. Portland's multiple turnovers helped them out. Halfway into the quarter, the Nuggets took back the lead after a few consecutive layups. A favorite topic of Blazer's Edge discussion, Kenneth Faried, dominated the Blazers all over the court, ending the half with 17 points and 8 rebounds. However, the Blazers ended the half with the lead, by 3.
I still wish [Andre] Miller was our backup for damian. Call me sappy.
Third Quarter: Kaboom. The Blazers fell apart, giving the Nuggets turnover after turnover, leading to easy fast break buckets and three point plays. The smooth, effortless offense? Gone. The defense left open jumpers and easy offensive rebounds. By the end of this Nuggets onslaught, they led by... wait, what? 5? Thanks to some timely late shooting, the Blazers kept the game close after three.
Wouldn't mind seeing Nolan Smith in right now. Price is a disaster tonight.
Fourth Quarter: Ooops. In his usual early-fourth-quarter stint, two Ronnie Price turnovers led to an easy 9 point Denver lead. However, the Blazers re-established Aldridge in the post, and brought the starters back in. Soon, the Blazers were down by 3 again. But a few more turnovers gave an energetic Nuggets team extra opportunities, and they ran the Blazers right off the court. Soon, the lead was 9 again with less than 4 minutes left. They cut the lead to 5 with two minutes left, and Aldridge had two free throws. He swished them both. After Denver missed, Aldridge fooled Faried and hit an easy layup. However, Lawson scored another easy layup with 45 seconds left, giving Denver a 3 point lead. Matthews had a shot at a three.. and swished! The game was tied with 30 seconds left. Denver missed, and Lillard got a shot at the win... but missed. Overtime.
Overtime: A Lawson jumper immediately gave Denver the lead. A Batum dunk got it back. Denver hit a three, but the Blazers stayed close, within one with under 2 minutes left. McGee fouled Hickson on a rebound, who hit both to give the Blazers the lead with 90 seconds left. On a broken play, Gallinari threw up a three-pointer against the shot clock.. and it swished. But Aldridge nailed a turnaround at the other end to tie the game with 45 seconds left.
However, after a bunch of boneheaded plays, McGee caught Hickson off-guard and dunked an alley-oop pass with 39 seconds left. Aldridge went to the line again for two more free-throws. He rattled in both to tie the game. Denver took a timeout, tied with 32 seconds left. But Wilson Chandler, who rarely plays, hit his second three-pointer of the game (and sixth of the season) to give Denver the lead. The Blazers had one last opportunity, but came up short, losing after a valiant effort in thin air.