Jokic leads Nuggets to first win in Portland since 2013


The Trailblazers will be without All-Star point guard Damian Lillard Friday night, who is nursing a hamstring strain.

The Portland Trail Blazers need a victory here after losing eight of their last 11 games.

The Nuggets shot 49.4 percent from the field, blocked 10 shots and outrebounded the Blazers 49-34.

The Blazers made it an 11-0 run to tie the score at 28 early in the second quarter and led briefly at 31-30.

"We wanted to get to the paint just because that will open the 3s, that will open the easy passes". Both teams, in fact, played on Friday night, so this is a second consecutive game for each of the teams.

NOTES: Portland G Damian Lillard (hamstring) will accompany the Trail Blazers to Los Angeles for their Thursday game against the Lakers, but "he's most likely not playing", coach Terry Stotts said.

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Lillard noted how much the injury affected him during the previous game against the Spurs.

He returned and played the final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter but admitted after the game that he wasn't able to move well and served more as a decoy. Meanwhile, Lonzo Ball continued his impressive form of late as he finished with 23 points (9-16 FG, 5-6 3-PT FG), five rebounds, and five assists. On a night when the Lillard-less Blazers desperately needed McCollum, he shot just 3 of 11 during the first half.

As a result, Gary Harris will have to be on his A game once again as this will be the second premier two guard he has to match up with in a short stretch. "He was relentless in his pursuit", Malone said. The most surprising part of the stat was that Nikola Jokic, who leads in the Nuggets in Player Efficiency Rating and Adjusted Plus/Minus, gave away the ball a season-high ten times. The difference was 28-17 before Portland closed out the first quarter with five straight points to make it 28-22.

"I knew if I pulled him at that point, I felt things would go south very quickly", Malone said.

Blazers' wing production - Apart from the frontcourt, the Blazers have also been unable to get steady production from their wings. The Nuggets scored 64 points in the paint. But Golden State coach Steve Kerr tempered any enthusiasm that Curry, who has missed the last seven games, might return for the Finals rematch with the Cavaliers. Denver avoided its first three-game losing streak of the season. The starters were stellar in the Nuggets' win at Portland on Friday night.

The Lakers rank first in points in the paint per game (53.9) while the Trail Blazers rank 26th (40.8).