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(Thursday, December 20th)
Final Score: Portland 101, Denver 93
Portland, OR (Sports Network) - Nicolas Batum poured in a game-high 22 points on Thursday, as the Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of a woeful shooting night from the Denver Nuggets to take a 101-93 victory at the Rose Garden.
With starting center LaMarcus Aldridge sidelined with a left ankle injury, J.J. Hickson carried the load down low with 18 points and 18 rebounds, while Wesley Matthews donated 20 points for the Blazers, who have won four straight games for the first time since March 2-8, 2011.
"We were able to get the win," Matthews said. "We want to correct how many points we gave up in the paint, but that's for another day. Tonight we're going to enjoy this win."
Denver netted 74 points in the paint, but made just one field goal outside the painted area and set an NBA record for most missed three-point attempts without a make after going 0-for-22 from long range to snap a three-game winning streak.
"I don't think anybody took a bad three," Denver coach George Karl said of his team's record-setting futility from long range. "If you're going to have that line out there, you have to use it. You need to shoot around 33 percent and we were far from that tonight."
Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer each scored 13 points in the setback, Denver's sixth straight in Portland.
The Blazers, who shot 38.9 percent (14-of-36) from beyond the arc, never trailed in the contest and led by 11, 78-67, after a Batum jumper with 8 1/2 minutes left in the fourth.
Denver answered with eight straight points to pull within three, but Damian Lillard and Batum knocked down back-to-back triples around a JaVale McGee dunk to press the lead back to seven.
The Nuggets again cut it to three after an Andre Miller jumper in the lane, but an 8-2 spurt from the Blazers found the margin at 92-83 with 2 1/2 minutes left.
Lawson's 20-footer, the Nuggets' lone bucket outside the paint, preceded a pair of Brewer free throws which brought the visitors within four, 97-93, with under 20 seconds left.
Portland, though, went 4-for-4 from the free throw line down the stretch to hang on for the victory.
Portland poured in the game's first seven points and led by as many as 13 in the first before carrying a 25-14 advantage into the second.
Luke Babbitt had the hot touch early in the second, knocking down a trio of 3- pointers less than three minutes into the frame to press Portland's lead to 36-18 with 9:20 left until halftime. Denver answered with a 14-2 surge to trim the margin to 38-32 with just over four minutes left in the half.
A 10-3 response from the Blazers quickly pressed the lead back to double digits, and the Blazers carried a 50-40 edge into the locker room.
Portland opened the second half on an 8-2 run to build its lead to 16 and led by double digits throughout the third until a McGee dunk with 4:19 left in the frame brought the Nuggets within eight at 62-54.
Denver dropped to 7-12 on the road this season ... Aldridge injured his ankle in Sunday's victory over New Orleans ... Portland held the previous record for three-point attempts without a make after going 0-for-20 on Dec. 10 against Toronto ... Portland's 14 3-pointers made tied a season high.
12/21 02:26:58 ET
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