The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard's 30 points and 6 assists, carrying the team throughout the second half. He also made 4 three-pointers, placing him in a tie with Damon Stoudamire for the all-time team season record (181). Will Barton recorded another nice night, with 17 points (on 8 shots), 9 rebounds and 5 assists. JJ Hickson was his usual self, adding 19 points and 9 boards.. Meyers Leonard (10) and Eric Maynor (14) also scored in double figures. LaMarcus Aldridge was held out of the game due to a sore ankle.
First Quarter: The Blazers started four rookies, and Hickson. What did you expect at the beginning? They kept it close for a few minutes, but Denver's defense was too strong, and it started leading to fast break dunks at the other end. When they didn't break, they still dunked, just via the half court offense. That described the entire second half of the first quarter, as the lead rocketed from 2 to 16. Score: Nuggets 37, Blazers 21.
Do you guys remember when this season was fun? That couldn’t have been this season, could it? Nah.
Second Quarter: Denver got sloppy, hitting no field goals for the first 5 minutes, while the Blazers cut their lead back down into single digits. By the time Hickson took the ball coast to coast, leading to a Barton layup, the Denver lead was 7 and they wanted a timeout. As the Blazer bench came in, the game became a near mirror-image of the first, as Denver's lead began growing again. As Denver racked up the easy points, Portland pulled out their socket wrenches to keep the wheels from flying off (translation: they made one three-pointer), but Denver took a comfortable lead into the locker room. Score: Nuggets 67, Blazers 50
[Wait a minute: With 0.4 seconds left in the quarter, the Nuggets inbounded from the Blazer end line. The Nuggets' own timekeeper started the clock before the inbound pass reached the player's hand. The referees reviewed the play, and confirmed the clock started early. So, they rewarded the Nuggets with a half-court inbound play, which nearly led to two points. To recap, the referees rewarded the Nuggets because their own timekeeper started the clock early. What's to prevent a home team from attempting this in the playoffs with 0.7 seconds left? Either the refs divided by zero on that play, or the rulebook should get a review in the offseason. Hopefully the NBA makes a statement tomorrow.]
I don't know how Barton does it, hes got a knack for rebounding
Third Quarter: Denver tried to run away and hide, but Lillard said "no!". He personally kept the Blazers close through the quarter, scoring 15 (including two three-pointers) and showing some impressive improvement on defense. Unfortunately, in the final seconds of the quarter, he fell while attempting to draw a foul, and hit his cheek on the court. He seemed ok after a few minutes, but headed to the bench. Denver was able to maintain a double-digit lead. Score: Nuggets 89, Blazers 78.
Can we just clone Dame and play 5 of him at once?
Fourth Quarter: Denver made another attempt to pull away, grabbing a 15 point lead. But more Lillard, as consecutive Blazer three-pointers cut the lead back to 7. With 5 minutes left, Claver hit another three, followed quickly by 2 Lillard free throws, cutting the lead to 4. Hickson went to the free throw line, hitting one to cut the lead to 3. But that was it. Denver's defense pressured the Blazers into a few poor possessions, and the Nuggets took advantage to put the game away.
Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule. -- Tim
Dave's Edit: For once I have nothing new to add to the recap. This game was exactly as bad in the bad parts as Timmay describes and exactly as Lillard-tastic for a while as well. At no point were the Blazers going to win it but at least they didn't get blown out. That's something.