Blazers improve to 3-0 start in 111-102 win over Nuggets
Another 100+ point game, another Trail Blazers victory and an undefeated record so far into the young 2011-2012 season. Portland welcomed division rival Denver Nuggets in the last of their three home opener and in a hard-fought, entertaining match, the Blazers managed to hang on and defeat the new look Nuggets 111-102. It was finally time for Wesley Matthews and the guards to come alive while LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace took things easy. The Portland crowd also welcomed back point guard Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez who were traded to Denver on Draft night in exchange for Raymond Felton.
Matthews, who was kept somewhat quiet during the first two games finally came alive from everywhere, including downtown were he is most dangerous. Matthews finished the game with a game high 25 Pts, 5 Reb and a whopping 5-8 from deep, including hitting 4 in a row during the second half. Felton followed suit and had his most productive game as a Blazer this season with 23 Pts, 5 Reb, 6 Ast on 10-16 shooting including a key three pointer during the last-minute of the game to put the game away for sure. And Jamal Crawford completed the three Blazers with 20+ points coming off the bench with 22 Pts, 5 Reb and cleaned up all his free throws going a perfect 9-9 from the line.
Aldridge and Wallace who were the early spark plugs against Philadelphia and Sacramento, had the advantage of letting the guards do much of the work. Aldridge was kept to just 13 Pts, 5 Reb, 6 Ast and dealt with what he called after the game “heavy legs”. Wallace too only had 13 Pts and 6 Reb. Even Marcus Camby made a big difference like he always does, forget the two points, talk about the 12 Reb and 3 Blks. Nicolas Batum would top that with 6 Pts and 4 Blks off the bench.
What’s really interesting about this win is not the fact that Portland shot pretty well, 51% overall and 8-20 from three, but the Blazers didn’t take very good care of the basketball, turning it over an epic 25 times compared to seven by Denver. Portland makes up for it by edging out the Nuggets in rebounding (50-30) and blocks (9-2), but were killed on the fast break (28-11) and points in the paint (54-40).
Denver looked to young point guard Ty Lawson to manage big points and he did: 25 Pts, 3 Ast and 8 Stl, Miller who came off the bench led his secondary squad with 13 Pts and 8 Ast. Fernandez, who was traded to Denver by the Dallas Mavericks, looked to be the old Fernandez that Portland knows better, collecting 7 Pts and 1-5 threes.
The Nuggets shot just around 40% and were behind 30-17 in the first quarter before coming back to tie things at halftime at 56 points. Denver had a tougher time shooting from downtown as they hit only 4-20.
Luckily for Aldridge and the Blazers, they will look forward to a couple of days of rest before flying out to the Staples Center to take on the new look Los Angeles Clippers on New Years Day.
photos courtesy of nba.com/blazers