The Portland Trail Blazers put up a stinker against the Denver Nuggets Thursday, losing 132-120 on the road despite a big scoring night from Damian Lillard. After signs of improvement in recent weeks Portland showed little resistance on defense, getting walked over all night by a less-experienced division rival.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (40 points, 10 assists), C.J. McCollum (23 points, 4 assists) and Mason Plumlee (19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals).
The first half was a disaster for the Blazers, who allowed 74(!) points to a hungry young Nuggets squad that could do no wrong. Danilo Gallinari led the way for Denver with 20 points and the Nuggets buried 9-13 from deep while Portland had no answers defensively. Lillard and McCollum shot decently and combined for 29 points but got little support from elsewhere.
Another silver lining continued to be the energized play of Plumlee, who scored 14 points and showed good hustle on both sides of the ball.
Portland Trail Blazers 56, Denver Nuggets 74
The Nuggets picked up where they left off to start the third quarter, piling on to their lead early and at one point going up by 22 when Nikola Jokic drew the and-1 on Noah Vonleh to make it 82-60 just minutes into the period.
It served as a bit of a wake-up call to the Blazers, who responded positively, cutting the deficit to 15 on Evan Turner’s jumper, and then as close as 10 later during the fourth quarter when Maurice Harkless earned a trip to the line. But that’s as close as it would get.
Each run Portland made had an almost immediate answer from Denver, who managed to recover before the Blazers had a chance to make things too interesting. Gallinari canned a three that put the Nuggets back up by 16 at 116-100 with just under six minutes remaining and looked to put things away for good.
The Blazers will need to find some answers quick, as they’ll get one day of rest before heading to Oakland to take on the sizzling Golden State Warriors Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Blazer’s Edge Night 2017
Want to assist us in sending 2,000+ underprivileged Portland-area kids to a Trail Blazers game this spring? Check out Blazer’s Edge Night 2017 for information on how to get involved, and help spread the word!