NOTE: Nicolas Batum left the game left due to injury. Replays were inconclusive, so Blazers Edge will have updates in this post as the situation develops. It looked like an ankle or knee injury, but could simply be a contusion. Refresh and check the bottom of this post for the latest from onsite reporters via social media. -- Tim
The last several seasons, the Portland Trail Blazers biggest weakness has been the bench. Those days are looking further and further away as the second unit helped Portland finish off the Denver Nuggets.
Chris Kaman had 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks off the bench, and the bench combined for 32 points as the Blazers topped the Denver Nuggets 116-100 at Moda Center on Sunday night.
The Blazers pulled out ahead early on some solid shooting from Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, who both had seven in the first quarter. Kaman had seven as well, and Portland took a nine point lead after one.
Matthews continued to be a force in the second quarter, fighting for loose balls and shooting 4-of-6 from three-point range. He finished the first half with 19. LaMarcus Aldridge came into the break with 14. Unfortunately, Matthews, Aldridge, and Robin Lopez were the only Blazers to score in the second quarter, with the other Portland shooters combining to go 0-for-8. Denver cut into the lead, getting as close as five, when Matthews drained a corner three at the buzzer to give the Blazers a 64-56 halftime advantage.
Portland's shooting went cold coming out of halftime, but their defense stepped up to compensate. Robin Lopez and Chris Kaman combined for six blocks in the period and the Blazers held Denver to just five field goals in the entire period for a whopping 21.7% shooting percentage. With the defense holding the Nuggets in check, the Blazers led by 12 after three.
The Nuggets fought back briefly in the fourth quarter with help from some questionable calls by the referees, but Damian Lillard scored seven in the last eight minutes to help seal the game.
Aldridge scored 28 to lead the Blazers, and Matthews had 21 for the game.
GIF: Steve Blake vs. Kenneth Faried http://t.co/DpEFuzqUku— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 10, 2014
Kaman had 5 blks in the win, 14th time in his career he's finished with that total...his career-high is 9 #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) November 10, 2014
Stotts gives a lot of credit to ball movement tonight.— Jamie Hudson (@JamieHudsonCSN) November 10, 2014
Terry Stotts on @wessywes2 diving hustle play in 2Q: "Wes is a competitor. Plays like that go a long way. It infuses energy and enthusiasm."— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) November 10, 2014
Stotts on @ChrisKaman: "His rebounding is part of his defense. He collects rebounds outside of his body." An out-of-body experience? (1/2)— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) November 10, 2014
VIDEO: Chris Kaman completes the nifty up-and-under thanks to some excellent footwork.
VIDEO: Wesley Matthews beats the halftime horn with a shot from deep.
VIDEO: Chris Kaman rejects JaVale McGee with authority.
VIDEO: Joel Freeland throws down the emphatic two-handed dunk on the fast break.