The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (26 points), JJ Hickson (18 points, 14 rebounds), LaMarcus Aldridge (22 points), Nicolas Batum (10 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds), Wesley Matthews (16 points) and Meyers Leonard (13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 monster dunks).
First Quarter: The Blazers came out hot, hitting multiple three-pointers to take an early lead. But Denver took advantage of some sloppy Blazer play, leading to an 11-2 run and a Portland timeout. And it was a good one, because they settled down, thanks to some inspired play by Hickson. However, the Nuggets continued to abuse the Blazers inside and in transition. They led by 6 after one.
Can we get Przy as a shot blocking coach? Have him room with Leonard. Maybe punch him in the face once a day ... just to set the tone.
Second Quarter: In less than a minute, the Denver lead was 10. The same MO from the first quarter continued: Transition and easy offense in the post. At the halfway point, the Blazers found a nice combination of players, leading to some easy transition buckets of their own. When they cut the 12 point Denver lead to 6, George Karl called timeout. The Blazers cut the lead to 4, but Denver maintained control, heading to the locker room with an 8 point lead.
Let me look at my crystal ball. Blazers go down double digits in the third, make a run in the fourth, ending up losing by 4 points…
by Eat Politicians (who was so close!)
Third Quarter: Lillard and Matthews meant business, combining for 3 three-pointers to cut the Denver lead to 1 in three minutes. Just as the previous quarter, Denver kept control, rebuilding their lead each time the Blazers chipped away at it. Each time they got it to 1, they had a chance to take the lead. And each time, they failed, until Batum found Leonard on the break for a dunk and a 1 point Blazer lead. Then a second one, over former Blazer Andre Miller! The pumped-up Blazers headed to the bench leading by 3 after three.
Andre just got Mozgoved.
Fourth Quarter: The roles reversed, with Denver repeatedly nudging back in, but with the Blazers hitting big shots to hold them off. Eventually the Blazer turnover problems reappeared, giving the Nuggets more chances. Denver hurt their own cause by repeatedly missing free throws, but took back the lead with another steal at the 6 minute mark. The teams swapped the lead as the clock ticked under 3 minutes. But on the break, Andre Iguodala hit a wild over-the-shoulder shot to give Denver a 3 point lead with 2 minutes left. The lead reached 5 before Matthews hit a three-pointer with 90 seconds left. With a chance to tie, the Blazers went to Aldridge for a turnaround jumper... swish. Tie game.
Out of the timeout, Denver got the ball to Miller, who layed the ball in around Hickson with 24 seconds left. After another timeout, the Blazers passed the ball around to Aldridge, who just missed a jumper. Denver hit two straight free throws, forcing the Blazers into desperation mode. After a rough possession, Lillard hit a thre-pointer with 3.7 seconds left. They fouled Miller, who hit the first free throw, but missed the second with 2.4 seconds left. Portland had a shot to tie or win! After one last Blazer timeout, they inbounded to Aldridge, who missed a turnaround at the buzzer. The Blazers came up short after a wild night.
Box score | Portland Trail Blazers tickets via TiqIQ
Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule. -- Tim