EditorsNote: 4th graf, extra words removed; 5th graf, change Simmons to Simons
Nikola Jokic had 29 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, Jamal Murray scored 20 in his return to the lineup after missing 10 games, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 127-99 on Tuesday night.
Jerami Grant scored 17, Will Barton added 16 points, and Malik Beasley scored 14 for the Nuggets, who have won all three meetings with Portland this season. Denver won for the third time in four games.
Damian Lillard was held to 21 points, his lowest output since Jan. 9, and CJ McCollum had 20 for Portland. The Trail Blazers had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Lillard, who had nine assists in the loss, came into Tuesday averaging 48.8 points and 10.2 assists over his previous six games, was held down by Denver. He shot 8-for-23 from the field and hit just one of his six 3-point attempts. He had made 49 3-pointers over the previous five games.
Gary Trent Jr. added 11 points and Anfernee Simons had 10 for Portland.
The Blazers led by four early in the game and by one late in the first quarter, but Denver took control in the final 3:20 of the period. Jokic hit two 3-pointers and Beasley converted a three-point play in a 15-5 run that ended the quarter with the Nuggets leading 37-28.
Denver then dominated the second and third quarters to take a big lead.
The lead was 47-34 after Trent sank a layup, but that was the closest the Blazers got the rest of the way. Murray scored four consecutive points, Grant dunked over Lillard and then hit a 3-pointer, and Jokic had two free throws in a 17-4 run to close out the period, giving the Nuggets a 64-38 halftime lead.
McCollum tried to keep Portland in the game in the third, scoring 16 of the team’s 36 points, but Denver maintained its advantage.
Barton hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 78-47 with 8:18 left in the period, and Jokic’s short jumper gave Denver a 34-point lead.
The Blazers closed the third on an 18-10 run to get within 100-74 but never threatened in the fourth.
Murray had been sidelined due to a sprained left ankle.
—Field Level Media