The budding rivalry is once again renewed tonight between the injury-riddled Portland Trail Blazers and the knicked up Denver Nuggets. The Blazers are coming off giving an ass whipping to the New York Knicks and the Nuggets are losers of three in a row.
Though the rivalry might have been short-lived as the Nuggets behind a big night from Jerami Grant blew out the Blazers, 114-99.
The Blazers needed to get off to a hot start tonight and boy have they. Hassan Whiteside has 11 points and a three pointer made already in the first six minutes of the game and Carmelo Anthony put in a quick five points as well.
The Nuggets are making a three every minute to start the game. It’s good to see that the Blazers have not shored up the perimeter defense hasn’t improved at all with Kent Bazemore getting starter minutes. But he can’t guard the entire length of the three point line all by himself. Nikola Jokic is bruising up the Blazers on the interior too. Terry Stotts decides to play both Whitside and Skal Labissiere at the same time. Jokic has killed them inside and outside since they’ve both been on the floor.
CJ McCollum goes to the bench and both Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. join Damian Lillard in the backcourt to end the quarter. The Blazers might want to take a look at Jamal Crawford and play him a few minutes a game. At least Jusuf Nurkic is close to coming back.
The Blazers end the first quarter down 33-25. A lot of great effort to start the quarter, but the lack of depth really showed as it went on. Portland doesn’t have anyone like Jerami Grant to come off the bench to play all three areas of the floor.
The Nuggets start the 2nd on a 10-2 run, Michael Porter Jr. took offense to Melo destroying him on the block by knocking down a couple of three point shots.
Blazers take a much needed time out and come back on fire. A couple of threes by CJ and some attacks by Melo and the Blazers go on a 10-2 run themselves to get back within seven points again. Carmelo had a gorgeous steal of a Porter pass that he took coast to coast for a layup.
Stotts decides to take Anthony out when the Blazers cut the Nuggets lead down to three and a few seconds later the lead is back to eight. Lillard is ice cold right now. He’s 0-5 from three and he’s forcing things. The offense in the second half should flow through Whiteside and Antony in the second half. The Blazers trail at the half by 9, 62-53.
The Blazers came out hot to start the third quarter and have upped the defensive intensity. Damian Lillard started to come life too. He was scoring and getting the ball to both Whiteside and Melo in the right spots.
I”m not sure what it is tonight, but CJ looks slow and maybe disinterested. His body language is terrible. It’s usually lax, but not like this. I wonder if he has a nagging injury or is part of that nasty flu bug that is going around. Or maybe he’s just over it.
Whiteside has been playing killer defense on Jokic tonight too. So far he’s held him to 13 points three quarters the way through the third. Yes, Jokic is having a down year. His offensive game is also on point tonight.
Tory Craig played some of the best defense I have seen all year on Damian Lillard and Dame casually knocks down a three over him. That’s a will breaking shot.
The Nuggets have 13 threes made so far tonight. The Blazers really need to challenge those shots better. It’d be one thing if they were contested threes, but for the most part, they are wide open. The shots are just killers too. Blazes cut the lead to one point, they give up three threes in the final minute of the quarter and they are down 11 heading into the fourth.
The third is a quarter they should have won. They had the Nuggets on their heels for most of the quarter and had a chance to take the lead going into the fourth. The Blazers defense stepped up big and had the Nuggets all out of sorts on offense to start the third. Then the Denver bench knocked down some big shots in the final minute.
The Nuggets bench has outscored the Blazers bench 35-7 through three quarters.
The fourth quarter did not start much better. The Nuggets pushed the lead out to 17 in the first few minutes. For some reason, they have decided to not guard Jerami Grant. He’s just leading the team in scoring. No reason to guard the guy who hasn’t missed a three tonight and is shooting 70% from the field.
The Nuggets bench outscored the Blazers bench 46-9.
The Blazers get three days off before heading to Phoenix to take on the Suns. Tip is at 6:00 PM.