EditorsNote: fixes “CJ” in fourh graf, rewords last graf
The Denver Nuggets snapped the Portland Trail Blazers’ NBA record for consecutive home-opener victories on Wednesday, winning 108-100.
Portland had won 18 home openers in a row, not losing one since 2000 to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Denver got 20 points and 13 rebounds from foul-plagued center Nikola Jokic, who had 16 points in the fourth quarter. Will Barton totaled 19 points for the Nuggets, six in the closing quarter. Guard Jamal Murray scored seven of his 14 points in the final quarter.
Portland’s Damian Lillard led all scorers with 32 points, 13 in the fourth. First-year Blazers center Hassan Whiteside had 16 points and a game-best 19 rebounds. Rodney Hood scored 13 points, and CJ McCollum had 12.
In the meeting of 2019 Western Conference semifinalists, Denver — which lost that series 4-3 — outscored the Blazers 35-21 over the final 10:48.
The start of the game wasn’t so good for the Nuggets. Jokic drew three fouls in the first 3:45, as Whiteside got off to a strong start at both ends of the court. The Nuggets struggled to even get up an early inside shot and fell behind 19-7. But they hit 6 of 10 from 3-point range to finish the quarter behind 27-24. At that point, Denver was 2 of 17 on 2-pointers and was outscored 14-4 in the paint.
It was a much different second quarter, as the Nuggets sank 9 of 13 from the field (3 of 4 from 3-point range) and led by as many as 10 points, 49-39. Portland outscored the Nuggets 11-5 down the stretch of the half to get within 54-50 at the break.
Jokic, who stayed on the bench the entire second quarter, didn’t get his first points until early in the second half. He scored four points in the quarter, and Portland led 74-73 heading into the final 12 minutes.
In the fourth quarter, Portland’s biggest lead was 79-73. Denver went ahead 97-90 with 3:15 remaining on the second of back-to-back 3-pointers by Jokic. After Portland cut the gap to 101-96 with 46.7 seconds left, the Nuggets sealed the win by sinking seven of eight free throws.
—Field Level Media