The Denver Nuggets earned a thrilling 113-112 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers last night. If quotes shared with Mike Singer of the Denver Post are any indication, beating Portland has become a defining moment for the Nuggets in the early going of the season.
Singer describes the usually-taciturn Paul Millsap speaking up in Denver’s huddle with the game on the line:
“The one thing I loved tonight, (Millsap) grabbed our guys in the huddle and said, ‘Fellas, we talk about being a playoff team. If we’re really going to be a playoff team, this is a game we have to get,’” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I loved hearing that from him because he’s not always the most vocal, but when he does talk people do listen.”
He also cites the tough assignment given to guard Gary Harris: defending All-World point guard Damian Lillard.
“’Welcome back, Gary,” Malone joked. “’You’ve got to go guard Damian Lillard, who just scored 41 points. We love you.’ Gary embraces that. He likes those challenges and he wants to guard the other team’s best player.”
Harris, aside from his team-high 27 points and four 3-pointers, flummoxed Lillard on the defensive end and hounded him into a 6 for 16 shooting night.
“I mean I’m a competitor,” he said. “I’m going to go out, no matter who I’m playing against. Man, I try to treat every game the same.”
After the win, the Nuggets stand in second place in the crowded Western Conference. Portland sits in seventh, two games behind. The Blazers will get a chance to make up the loss Sunday as they take on the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio.