After two big wins, the Nuggets have shown their inconsistency down the stretch as they took a major loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in Denver in front of a nearly sold out crowd.
Now, the Nuggets are looking to redeem themselves over the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland as they kick off their 10 day road trip and as it stands, the Trail Blazers are leading the Nuggets in the season series, 2-1.
Our last meeting against Portland was back on December 15th in the Mile High City where the Nuggets took the 132-120 win over Portland. Danilo Gallinari was Denver’s leading scorer with 27 points, shooting 8/13 from the field, 3/6 from beyond the arc, and 8/8 from the charity stripe. Gallinari also had 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
Denver’s second leading scorer was Gary Harris with 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists. Wilson Chandler was right behind Harris with 17 points of his own, along with 8 rebounds, and 3 assists in his 35 minutes.
The Nuggets shot 51.2% from the field, 48.4% from beyond the arc, and 88.6% from the free throw line. Denver had 48 rebounds, 27 assists, 10 steals, and 4 blocks on top of their 36 points in the paint.
Damian Lillard led the Trial Blazers with 40 points, shooting 13/22 from the field, with 3 rebounds and 10 assists. C.J. McCollum was the second leading scorer with 23 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists. Former Trail Blazer, now Nugget, Mason Plumlee had 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in his 28 minutes on the floor.
Portland shot 46.6% from the field, 34.8% from downtown, and 83.3% from the charity stripe. Portland had 50 rebounds, two over the Nuggets, along with 11 assists, 6 steals, 4 blocks, and 50 paint points.
This is a big game between the Nuggets and Trail Blazers because, following Denver’s loss to the Pelicans and Portland’s win over the Lakers, they are tied for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. If it comes down to a tie breaker, the Nuggets are trailing the Blazers 5-8 within the division. The Trail Blazers are 8-3 within the division.
With this being the first meeting between these two teams since swapping big men Jusuf Nurkic and Mason Plumlee, former Denver Nugget Nurkic, now the starting center for the Trail Blazers, was quoted saying:
“I have no issue with the Nuggets. I appreciated what the organization did for me. I’m not a guy to make a drama on that. I’m not focused just about Denver. I want to win every game.”
It’s now or never if the Nuggets want to fight for and keep the remaining playoff spot in the West.
Nuggets Stats: Trail Blazers Stats:
PPG: 111.4 PPG: 108
FG%: 46.8 FG%: 46.1
RPG: 46.3 RPG: 43.9
APG: 25.1 APG: 21.4
Last 10: 6-4 Last 10: 7-3
Keys to the Game, Courtesy of Sean English:
- Nurkic vs. Jokic: Jusuf Nurkic will be firing on all cylinders in his first game agains the Nuggets since being traded. Whoever wins this battle will have the upper hand.
- Take and make good shots. Against New Orleans, the Nuggets went ice cold shooting the basketball, leading to their enormous loss against the Pelicans.
- Gary Harris: Known as the Nuggets best perimeter defender, look for Gary Harris to try and lock down Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum (much easier said than done).
No injuries on either team.