Denver Nuggets spoil Jusuf Nurkic's return, beat Portland Trail Blazers, 104-101

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It also gives Denver a 2-1 series lead over the division rival Trail Blazers (25-22) ahead of their final meeting April 9 at the Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets' second-year point guard had an entire section of the postgame media notes dedicated to various tidbits about his career performance. First, Nurkic couldn't handle a pass from Al-Farouq Aminu and the Nuggets capitalized as Murray hit a game-tying three-pointer. Will Barton started the game in place of Wilson Chandler, and though he did not make a shot from the field, made plenty of them from the free throw line. He was formidable on the defensive end as well with three blocks and two steals. Trey Lyles (nine points, six rebounds) played 24 minutes off the bench, while Emmanuel Mudiay (three points, three rebounds, zero assists) got 11 minutes as the backup point guard and Torrey Craig (three points, three rebounds) played eight minutes.

"Yeah, that's a game I looked forward to definitely", Nurkic said.

A lot has been speculated about what went wrong during Nurkic's stint in Denver. Evan Turner then rebounded his own missed turnaround jumper and got the ball back to Lillard, who was blocked by Plumlee on a driving layup.

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The Portland Trail Blazers face the ninth placed Denver Nuggets away in a North West derby on Tuesday in their next game.

WHO PUBLIC BETTORS LIKE: Portland.

"It was great that (the officials) made that decision to make sure they have the right call", Malone said. Nurkic said "there's no relationship" between him and his former coach.

Denver improved to 2-1 against the Blazers this season while Portland had its three-game losing streak snapped and has now lost four consecutive road games. He embraced that role Monday in a game the Nuggets needed. The Trail Blazers had two chances to go back in front but couldn't convert. As of Monday afternoon, the Trail Blazers are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games in Denver. CJ McCollum struggled through a 3-for-14 shooting night and finished with 12 points and four assists. Denver is off until Thursday's home contest against NY, followed by another home date with Dallas.

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