Local: 503.250.1080
    Toll Free: 866.358.1080
| More
NBA Basketball
Scoreboard|Stats|Standings|Teams|Players|Player News|Injuries|Transactions
100
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Portland 32 20 30 18 100
Denver 21 24 24 26 95
95
6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 PM CT1:00 , February 25, 2014
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado  Attendance: 16,058

Lillard leads Portland past Denver 100-95

(Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

By ARNIE STAPLETON

AP Sports Writer

DENVER (AP) The Trail Blazers took Denver's best shot - and the Nuggets took way too many errant shots thanks to Portland's stifling defense.

Damian Lillard made up for the absence of fellow All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge by scoring 31 points in the Trail Blazers' 100-95 win over the Nuggets on Tuesday night, including a pair of free throws and a layup in the closing minutes to help hold off Denver's fourth-quarter rally.

"It was a difficult game," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "We did a lot of good things, made some big plays defensively to win it at the end. The offense kind of shut down in the fourth quarter but our defense stayed solid, and to get a win like this in Denver is something we needed to do."

The Nuggets trimmed an 18-point deficit to two but couldn't catch the Blazers. Denver made just 37 of 103 shots, including 27 of 64 in the paint, and couldn't even find the rim at the line, missing 9 of 26 free throws.

Lillard scored 12 points in the third quarter when it looked as if to the Blazers were headed for a blowout win, but he saved his biggest shots for late in the fourth.

Lillard's clutch shooting helped Portland overcome a terrific performance by Denver's J.J. Hickson, who pulled down a career-high 25 rebounds, including 15 on the offensive side. Hickson led the Nuggets to a 64-41 advantage on the glass, appearing as a reserve power forward after starting 52 games at center this season.

"Twenty-five boards is exciting, but the win would have been more exciting," Hickson said.

The Blazers again went with a smaller lineup with Aldridge missing his fourth straight game with a strained left groin, and Dorell Wright helped make up for Aldridge's team-high 23.9 points and 11.4 rebounds by giving Denver another long-range shooter to defend.

As Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said before tip-off when talking about Aldridge's absence, "There's a big sigh of relief that you don't have to deal with that, but at the same time it just creates a different type of problem: They're one of the best - if not the best - 3-point shooting teams in the league. They're the best free-throw shooting team in the league. They're the highest-scoring team in the league."

Six Blazers scored in double figures, including Nicolas Batum's 16 points.

Aldridge averaged 34.5 points in the Blazers' two earlier games against Denver this season and the Trail Blazers missed him in the fourth quarter when it was tougher to close this one out than they had expected when they surged to a 79-61 lead in the third.

Randy Foye led Denver with 17 points.

Denver again was without Ty Lawson, who leads the Nuggets with averages of 18 points and 8.8 assists. He's missed seven straight games with a broken rib.

Shaw also made a big change with his big man, starting 7-foot-1 Timofey Mozgov at center in place of Hickson, a natural power forward pressed into duty at center after JaVale McGee fractured his left tibia five games into the season.

Hickson filled in admirably, averaging 11.4 points and 9.2 boards, but he shot just 52 percent from the free-throw line, and Shaw said that "affected his confidence rolling to the basket aggressively and running the floor because maybe he doesn't want to get fouled."

Mozgov, who was averaging 8.6 points and 5.8 rebounds, finished with 14 points and six boards. Hickson scored 16 points.

Hickson said he was much more comfortable going back to power forward.

"It just felt good to play my natural position," he said.

He didn't seem bothered coming off the bench, either.

"I don't know how many minutes I played, but I definitely played starter's minutes tonight," said Hickson, who played just under 30 minutes. "So, coming off the bench or starting, people always tell me it's not who starts, it's who finishes and tonight, coach made the call to let me finish and that shows he has a lot of confidence in me still."

Evan Fournier's pair of free throws with just over four minutes remaining capped a 15-2 run that pulled Denver to 86-84. Lillard ended the drought with a pair of free throws.

After back-to-back buckets by Denver's Kenneth Faried, Lillard hit a finger-roll layup for a 92-88 lead, and the Nuggets never got any closer.

"When you're in a situation like that, you've just got to find a way to get it done," Lillard said.

NOTES: Blazers F Thomas Robinson played just 14 minutes and had a wrap on his left knee after the game. Stotts said he had no information on the injury.

Updated February 26, 2014

w3 © 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

The Fan's Top Stories

Rockets secure home court vs. Blazers


(AP) The Houston Rockets needed one win in their last two games or a loss by Portland on Wednesday to secure home-court advantage in their first-round playoff series against the Trail Blazers. More.

49ers LB Smith arrested at LA airport


(AP) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport after authorities said he became belligerent during a . . . more.

Lions negotiating with Suh


(AP) The Detroit Lions have been negotiating with Ndamukong Suh in the hopes of signing him to a long-year deal before he potentially becomes a free agent next year. More.

Irish to install artificial turf


(AP) Notre Dame will break with tradition and replace the grass surface at the stadium known as the "House Rockne Built" and install artificial surface before the upcoming football season. More.

Timbers still winless after draw


(AP) Erick Torres scored in the 79th minute to help Chivas USA tie Portland 1-1 on Saturday night, leaving the Timbers winless at 0-2-4. More.

Watson wins second Masters in 3 years


(AP) Bubba Watson scooped up his son, hugged his wife and took off down the ropes along the 18th green, high-fiving the patrons at Augusta National. More.