The Denver Nuggets came into Portland on Wednesday night looking for some consistency on the road and more importantly to exorcise some demons from the last time they played in Portland. Despite some dreadful FT shooting from the Nuggets, Denver won a gutsy game 111-109. A sweet victory for the Denver as it was their first win in Portland since 2009.
If you remember the ugly night the last time the Nuggets played in Portland, Denver only scored one basket from outside the paint and set the NBA record for most three-pointers missed. So tonight had to be different and it was, for the most part.
The Nuggets were shorthanded as Gallo was out and Wilson Chandler started again. From the opening tip, the Nuggets looked like they definitely remembered the last time they were in the Rose Garden. In the 1st quarter, Iggy was leading the way for Denver playing good on both sides of the ball. His FT shooting still looked ugly and that is still a work in progress.
Denver made a lot of shots in the 1st as they were shooting over 50% for the quarter and the Trailblazers struggled to reach 40%. After the 1st, Denver led 31-25 with Iggy having 10 points and 4 assists. Portland played better defense in the 2nd quarter but that still didn’t stop Ty Lawson from putting up some highlights, especially one shifty move after a steal for a layup.
The Nuggets would stretch their lead to 12 midway through the 2nd, before a mini run by Portland got them back into the game. At the half Denver still led 58-50 thanks to shooting 59%, with Lawson leading all scorers with 16 points. J.J. Hickson led the Blazers with 14 and the sensational PG rookie Damian Lillard only had 8. The 3rd quarter was all Blazers as they hit 4 three pointers in the quarter, played great defense, and spread the wealth as five Blazers got to double figures.
Denver really didn’t have a sense of urgency it needed to stretch their lead and only had Ty and Iggy were in double figures for most of the game. In addition, a lot of poor turnovers led to this ugly quarter for Denver and the usual steady play of Andre Miller was out the window as he was turning it over on poor decisions. Total lack of execution summed up this quarter for Denver. A huge slam by another Blazers rookie Meyers Leonard who posterized Andre Miller gave Portland the 82-79 lead after three quarters and the entire momentum heading to the 4th.
The final quarter was a tight affair as both teams were executing on the offensive side of the ball. Lamarcus Aldridge was draining his mid-range jumper and Lillard was aggressive pretty much the entire 2nd half. Iggy and Lawson were keeping Denver in it. Back and forth both teams went and with under a minute left, Aldridge drained yet another mid- range jumper to tie it at 106-106. After a timeout, Denver went to the old veteran Andre Miller muscled his way down low and weaved around J.J. Hickson for the bucket to put Denver up 108-106 with 24 seconds to go. Ty would add 2 more FT’s before a Lillard three made it 110-109. Andre Miller then made 1-2 from the FT line, the Blazers had 2.9 seconds and after a timeout, went to their All Star Lamarcus Aldridge and he missed a turnaround jumper!
Denver scraped out this win 111-109. Ty Lawson (30pts) and Iggy (29pts) were just on another level tonight carrying the Nuggets. Damian Lillard (26pts) and Lamarcus Aldridge (22pts led the Blazers. Quality road win for Denver as this would have been a rough games to lose. Back home now for Denver as they welcome KD and the Thunder to the Pepsi Center on Friday.
GAME ANALYSIS FROM ANTHONY:
This game was huge for the Nuggets. The spell seemed to finally be lifted off the Nuggets’ backs in terms of their road woes. What’s even better.. Masai Ujiri might have seem the first glimpse of what he imagined when he traded for Iguodala (despite the poor FT shooting). Iggy and Lawson played beautifully together in the back-court tonight. If the Nuggets can rock that kind of defense and keep their offensive game that consistent, then there’s a realistic chance of Denver making some noise in the 2013 postseason. The Nuggets sit 2 1/2 games back of Memphis for the 4th seed in the West, and will continue to push for home-court advantage, likely against the Grizzlies that they’re chasing.
Extra: Incredible Circus shot by Andre Igoudala-