DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 41 points and Jamal Murray celebrated his 24th birthday by scoring 19 of his 24 in the fourth quarter to lead the Denver Nuggets over the Portland Trail Blazers 111-106.
Damian Lillard had 20 of his 25 points in the second half and added 13 assists but it wasn’t enough for the Blazers, who were coming off a 32-point loss in Phoenix on Monday night.
Lillard had only five points at halftime but the Blazers rallied from 12 down to tie it at the break behind Carmelo Anthony’s big second quarter. Anthony scored 16 of his 19 first-half points in the period and finished with 24.
- Poor Shooting night for Dame
It does not happen often, but Lillard had a really tough shooting night especially from three point range. Dame finished the game 9-21 from the field and just 4-11 from three. Whenever Lillard struggles shooting the ball, the Blazers offense just seems a little off and out of rhythm. A tough night for the Blazers All-Star point guard.
- Carmelo Anthony off the bench
From time to time folks forget just how good Carmelo is offensively and how much he can contribute to the Blazers offense. In tonight’s loss to the Nuggets, Carmelo finished the game with 21 points and four rebounds. In the second quarter alone, Carmelo was the reason why the Blazers were not down big time. Having Carmelo come off the bench with such elite offensive ability is going to continue to be key for the Blazers in order to stay in games with C.J Mccollum and Jusuf Nurkic out.
- Solid third quarter
As highlighted numerous times this season, the Blazers have struggled big time coming out of the half. In Monday nights game against the Phoenix Suns, the Blazers gave up a jaw dropping 37 points in the third quarter. The Blazers responded much better coming out of the half against the Nuggets allowing just 21 points. I think in order for the Blazers to claw their way up in the western conference standings, the Blazers will have to continue to play much better in the third quarters.
- Dame not getting the “All-Star calls”
While top players around the league seem to get the “gimme” calls, Lillard doesn’t seem to get the same amount of love from the referees. I think it was very apparent tonight watching Lillard drive into the lane, take contact during his shot and fall to the ground and not get the call. While it is extremely frustrating not just for Lillard, but the people watching, Lillard just has to keep going and continue to play hard in hopes to get the same amount of calls.
- Blazers had no answer for Jokic
While Enes Kanter plays extremely hard game in and game out for the Blazers, he had a very hard time containing All-star center Nikola Jokic who torched the Blazers for 41 points, five rebounds, and five assists. At the end of the day, the Blazers fought hard, but with a lack of depth at the center position due to injury, Kanter was just flat out worn out in this game and it led to a big game from the MVP candidate.
For the most part, the team with the least amount of turnovers is going to have a much better chance to win the game. Against the Nuggets, the Blazers were below their season average for turnover with nine, but compare that to the Nuggets one turnover, and all of a sudden, being below the season average isn’t so impressive. Blazers didn’t win the turnover margin which drastically hurt their chances to get the win.