The Blazers were led by LaMarcus Aldridge, with another MVP-Caliber stat line, 44 points (a new career high), 13 rebounds and 5 assists. He had support from Wesley Matthews (24 points) and Robin Lopez (12 points, 9 rebounds).
First Quarter: A nice start for the Blazers gave them an early 8-2 lead, but multiple ugly turnovers gave the Nuggets extra chances, and they kept things close. But in a smart move Blazers Coach Terry Stotts put the ball in Aldridge's hands, as he was guarded by Denver's Kenneth Faried. Faried just couldn't handle him, and quickly picked up two fouls. Portland hustled and pulled ahead with fast breaks and inside play, but they couldn't keep the Nuggets from scoring inside at the other end, or getting offensive rebounds. Despite a good quarter at the offensive end, the defense left the Blazers behind.
Denver 30, Portland 27.
We should start rebounding and playing some defense soon.
by Blazing Chargers
Second Quarter: Led by CJ McCollum, the Blazer bench kept things close, but let's be honest: The Blazers were still looking a little lazy. They had that "we can turn it on later when we need to" look on their faces. It's the kind of thing you'll see the Miami Heat do. So that's both a little scary, and a little cool. But it's also the kind of thing that bites you in the rear eventually. And Nate Robinson, who loves playing in Portland, got on a roll, hitting shot after shot to pull Denver ahead by 9. The luckiest three-pointer of the season (accidental bank) for Wilson Chandler made the lead 12. The Blazer starters said "ho hum" and checked into the game. A few minutes later, the deficit was 3. But the Denver bench couldn't be stopped. First, Randy "You passed over me for Brandon Roy" Foye nailed a three to keep Denver ahead, followed by another three-pointer, then a three-point play, then another three-point play. That kept the Nuggets somewhat-comfortably ahead at halftime. But not before Lillard did this:
Denver 67, Portland 59
Well... here we go again.
Thanks, I'm missing Mike Barrett's commentary.
Third Quarter: An inspired Denver team opened the quarter with a three-pointer and a block to force a turnover, followed by another three-pointer, a layup and another three-pointer. Their lead reached 15 as the crowd (and Gameday Thread crew) grew frustrated. The Blazers struggled to make a run, making sloppy mistakes and missing one-on-one shots. Portland cut the lead to single digits with 5 minutes left, and some more defense helped cut the deficit to five. With a little luck, Denver did just enough to stay ahead.
Denver 91, Portland 86
Blazers just coast for three quarters and then squeeze out the win Happens all the time. Stressful for fans, but they usually win.
Fourth Quarter: Coach Stotts realized that Denver had Nate Robinson defending Matthews. He probably smiled. Two minutes later, Portland had the lead and Denver called timeout. Denver regained the lead, but Matthews posted up again, and passed to CJ for three... swish. But the game was still tied with 8 minutes left, when Aldridge came back into the game. With 7 minutes left, former Blazer JJ Hickson gave Denver the lead again. In response, Aldridge scored, scored again, then blocked Ty Lawson's layup. Portland clung to a 1 point lead with 4 minutes left, but Aldridge couldn't hit his free throws, missing three of four. He hit a jumper sandwiched around two Denver turnovers. Denver hit a layup to keep the Blazer lead at 1, then took the lead with a hook shot at the 1:26 mark. Aldridge hit two free throws, but Foye hit a layup with one minute left to give Denver the lead. Again fouled hard, Aldridge hit two more free throws to give the Blazers the lead with 43 seconds left.
Out of a timeout, Denver gave it to Lawson, who missed a jumper. Aldridge secured the rebound, only to be immediately fouled in the backcourt by Hickson. He hit two more free throws to give the Blazers a three point lead, and tie his career high in scoring. Foye missed a three-pointer to tie, but the ball bounced out of bounds off Aldridge. With another chance, Denver went to Wilson Chander, who, after looking like Michael Jordan at times, missed a layup. Aldridge was fouled on the rebound, and broke his career high with two more free throws. He scored the final 15 points for the Blazers.
Denver missed a three, and there was a celebration, and a TNT interview where Aldridge was called an "MVP candidate" and showed he was keeping the game ball. Not too shabby for a night where the Blazers seemed to take half the game off.
The schedule doesn't slow down, as the Minnesota Timberwolves are in town Saturday night. And you can bet the Blazers remember their last meeting.
In the meantime, stay tuned, Ben and Dave have plenty of coverage to come tonight!
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night!