Thursday, November 13, 2014
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Blazers blow out Nuggets

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[November 13, 2014]  DENVER -- LaMarcus Aldridge has owned Denver the past two seasons, but Wednesday night, the Portland Trail Blazers didn't need their All-Star forward to beat the Nuggets.

The Trail Blazers just needed to show up.

Guard Damian Lillard had 27 points and nine assists, center Robin Lopez scored 19 and the Trail Blazers used an 84-point first half to rout the struggling Nuggets 130-113 on Wednesday night.

The 84 points was the second highest scoring first half in Blazers franchise history. They had 85 against Sacramento on Feb. 2, 1992.

"We made some mistakes, we didn't have the greatest start but it's pretty hard to beat that half," Lillard said. "Eighty-four points. That's points you score in a full game."

Center Chris Kaman scored 16 points and guard C.J. McCollum had 15 points off the bench for the Trail Blazers, who finished a stretch of four games in five nights with three straight wins.

"A lot to like about this," Portland coach Terry Stotts said.

Not for the Nuggets, despite a solid night from guard Ty Lawson, who scored a season-high 32 points despite a sore left ankle. Forward J.J. Hickson had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Denver, which trailed by as many as 36 before making it somewhat respectable.

"This is unacceptable," guard Randy Foye said. "This is a bad loss."

The Trail Blazers won despite playing the second game of a back-to-back. They rallied from 23 points down to beat Charlotte on Tuesday night and then flew into frigid Colorado late.

They showed no signs of fatigue, dominating the Nuggets throughout. Portland shot 61 percent in the first half and controlled every statistical category -- without much help from Aldridge, who has averaged 28 points a game against Denver the previous five games.

The Trail Blazers didn't need him Wednesday night. While Portland was building a 34-point lead in the first half, Aldridge took just six shots and scored nine points. The damage came from all over, with Kaman scoring 10 points in 10 minutes and Lillard nearly getting a double-double with 16 points and nine assists.

"We were a little fortunate," Lopez said. "Shots were falling."

This came after Denver led 9-2 in the early going only to be outscored 82-41 the rest of the first half.

"It's very discouraging. The first half, it looked like we played last night," Hickson said. "We didn't play hard. That's been our Achilles' heel. We've got to find a way to fix it. It's not on the coaches, it's on us."

It was another low point for the Nuggets, who have been regressing since their opening-night win against Detroit. They've lost six straight, and four of them have been by double-digit margins.

The blowout loss came three days after the Trail Blazers beat the Nuggets in Portland.

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"We expected a fight," Lillard said. "It's hard to beat a team twice, especially in such a short amount of time. They played us pretty well for the most part in Portland so coming here we expected their best shot."

Aldridge put the exclamation point on the first half with a 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds left that made it 84-50. The Nuggets players and coaches headed to the locker room to loud boos.

"It's not easy for us players," forward Danilo Gallinari said. "I understand the fans. It's not easy for them to see us play like that."

The second half was a mere formality. Denver coach Brian Shaw shuffled his lineup to start the third quarter but it wasn't enough to make a serious dent in the deficit. A 15-0 run got the Nuggets within 21 and Lawson's 3-pointer late in the third made it 94-76. But Lillard answered with three straight 3-pointers and Portland went into the fourth ahead 111-78.

"Based on the effort we gave out there on the floor, I started a different group in the second half, a group that I thought would at least fight and go out fighting regardless of what happened," Shaw said. "So we go from a 45-point second quarter to a 46-point second half."

NOTES: Portland F Nicolas Batum missed his second straight game with a right knee contusion. G Allen Crabbe started in his place. ... Nuggets F Danilo Gallinari had his minutes restrictions lifted, according to coach Brian Shaw. Gallinari, who missed all of last season after two left knee surgeries on his torn ACL, has had his playing time capped around 20 minutes. He is still coming off the bench. ... The Trail Blazers' 23-point comeback win over Charlotte on Tuesday night was their largest come-from-behind victory in four seasons. ... Denver F Darrell Arthur returned after serving a one-game suspension for his Flagrant 2 foul against Cleveland on Friday.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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