The Portland Trail Blazers fell 120-108 to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. The Blazers were unable to overcome a strong offensive performance from the Nuggets in the fourth quarter, despite a great showing on offense in their own respect.
The Blazers were led in scoring by Scoot Henderson, who finished with 30 points, and Anfernee Simons, who had 29 of his own.
The Nuggets were led by Nikola Jokic who recorded a triple-double with 27 points, 22 rebounds and 12 assists in the game.
The Nuggets started the game by making a definitive statement that they wanted to win. They jumped out to a 10-2 lead just over three minutes into the game, stopping the Blazers from getting anything going on offense early.
The bench came in and provided some energy for Portland, but the Denver lead still continued to increase. A pair of 3-pointers from Matisse Thybulle and Duop Reath helped keep the lead from growing out of control, but the Nuggets were still able to maintain full control of the game.
Denver held Portland to just 31% shooting in the first quarter while shooting 54% themselves. That disparity helped the Nuggets hold a 33-20 lead at the end of the first.
The Blazers were able to close the gap a bit at the start of the second quarter, coinciding with Nikola Jokic taking a stint on the bench. Scoot Henderson got off to another hot start, which helped Portland take advantage of Jokic’s break.
A 12-0 run from the Blazers brought them all the way back to take the lead 41-40 with just over six minutes left in the half. Henderson continued his strong play, scoring his 13th point of the quarter with just under five minutes left in the second quarter.
The stellar second quarter from Portland allowed them to survive a short Denver run when Jokic re-entered the game. The Nuggets were able to regain the lead late in the second quarter. After shooting poorly in the first quarter, the Blazers went 12-18 in the second quarter, in which they outscored Denver 35-26.
Henderson finished the quarter with 16 points, giving him 20 total at halftime. On the other side, Jokic finished the half with 11 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, putting him firmly on triple-double watch.
Portland still trailed the Nuggets 59-55 at the end of the first half.
Jokic continued his dominance at the start of the second half. He scored six points in the first five minutes of the quarter as Denver brought their lead back to double-digits. The defense of the Blazers allowed for many easy opportunties during the run.
Anfernee Simons had a scoring outburst that helped Portland get the offense going. He scored 15 points in the first nine minutes of the quarter. Unfortunately for the Blazers, the Nuggets’ offense just kept humming. Despite the run, the lead for Denver stayed relatively consistent at about 10 points for the whole stretch.
A late push led by Simons and Henderson helped narrow the gap just before the quarter ended. Portland trailed 92-84 heading into the final quarter.
Just like how Henderson took control in the second, the third quarter belonged to Simons. He had 18 points in the third quarter to bring him up to 21 total before the fourth quarter.
Denver tried to close the door on the Blazers early in the final frame. However, Portland was able to keep their foot in the door, matching the Nuggets almost basket-for-basket early in the quarter.
The Blazers kept up the offensive pressure, forcing Denver to keep scoring. Unfortunately, that did not seem to be a problem for the Nuggets. The Portland defense could not stop Denver from scoring at will, which made it difficult for the Blazers to put a significant dent in the lead.
The Nuggets were finally able to fully slam the door on Portland, whose comeback attempt was never able to fully get going.
Stay tuned for an extended recap of the game coming soon.
The Blazers are staying in Denver for another matchup with the Nuggets at 5:30 p.m. PST on Sunday, February 4.