The Nuggets took advantage of the Blazers’ difficult moment to feast at their expense. Denver took the game by a convincing 140-108 to reach 21 wins, which gives them a small margin over the group of teams fighting for direct access to playoff spots in the West and keeps them in the sixth place. Portland, for its part, maintains positions of play-in despite the many difficulties that this course is encountering, although, with a balance of 16-25, this is largely due to the weakness of their pursuers.
With Lillard and McCollum (among others) still absent, the Oregonians could do little to fight the duel. Although the Nuggets, who are not exempt from casualties, have been characterized this year by letting important income slip away on certain occasions, this was not the case this morning, as Malone’s men did not stop widening the distance until they placed themselves with 37 points of advantage in the final stages. The visiting defense was too flimsy to prevent this from happening, allowing Denver to reach 140 points for the first time since 2018.
To do this, the locals had a widely distributed score, since the enormous distance on the scoreboard allowed them to give rest to their stars and more minutes to the less usual men. Will Barton, with 21 points, was the leader of his team in this matter, although he was also the protagonist of the scare of the night after heading to the locker room with neck discomfort after an eventful action in which he ended up colliding with Nurkic. The shooting guard managed to return to the bench to the relief of the Ball Arena, and it does not seem that his situation is particularly worrying.
Nikola Jokic followed with 20 points (8/10 shooting), 8 rebounds and 7 assists, while Jeff Green reached 19. In the second unit, Facundo Campazzo was the best with 18 points and 12 assists, followed by 17 and 16 goals scored respectively by Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji.
On the Blazers, Ben McLemore and Dennis Smith Jr. tried to come out on top with 18 and 17 points, but it wasn’t enough to even keep a decent distance. Those from Oregon once again gave a very poor image in defensive work, something that Billups wanted to influence when the match ended.
“We have done a very poor job of stopping the ball,” said the coach. “They are very good at getting the ball to the low post to finish from there or create open 3-pointers. They are very good at it. We have not done anything about it and the game has escaped us.
(Cover photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)