The four-game winning streak of the Portland Trail Blazers came to a screeching halt on Tuesday night, as they were dismantled by the Denver Nuggets in a 127-99 shellacking. The loss marks the first time the team has been held under 100 points in over a month. Nikola Jokic had a near triple-double to lead the Nuggets, who shot over 50% from three-point range as a team. Damian Lillard finally cooled off from his torrid stretch, but still led the Blazers with 21 points on the night.
To top-off an already rough night, rookie Nassir Little suffered an ankle injury in the final minute of the game and had to be helped off the court. However, x-rays reportedly came back negative.
The game was competitive for most of the first quarter, before the Nuggets pulled ahead behind a 23-10 run over the final five minutes of the frame to go up nine. The wheels completely fell off the bus for the Blazers in the second, as they were outscored 27-10, scoring just six points over the first 11 minutes of the period. Denver took a 26-point lead into halftime and never looked back, going into cruise control in the second half while leading by as many as 34.
Fire and Ice
To put it simply, the biggest difference of the night was that the Nuggets hit shots while the Blazers couldn’t. Portland shot 39% from the field and just 29% from three, while Denver went 50% and 51% in the respective categories. Unsurprisingly, the Nuggets also won the rebounding battle, 50-36.
Carmelo Anthony particularly struggled, going 0-5 over 26 minutes while being held without a field goal for the first time of his tenure with the Blazers. He is now 0-8 in his career as a visiting player in Denver.
Joker Wreaks Havoc
While the Nuggets got production up and down their lineup, Jokic was without question the ringleader in the thrashing. The All-Star had 29 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists over 31 minutes—sitting out the entire fourth quarter with the game out of reach. 15 of his points came in the first quarter, as he was instrumental in the team’s early run—hitting a trio of threes, dominating in the paint, and getting his teammates involved with a variety of excellent passes.
Back Down to Earth
Lillard, who entered the night averaging nearly 50 points per game over the last six outings, struggled mightily in the contest. His 21 points came on just 8-23 shooting, and he went 1-6 from three-point land. His teammates weren’t able to pick up the slack, but CJ McCollum was able to chip in 20 points, while both Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons scored in double figures off the bench. It wasn’t nearly enough, with four Denver starters scoring 16 or more points, including 20 from Jamal Murray in his first game since January 15th.
The Blazers look to bounce back as they host the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.