Scott Henderson hacks the goal as the Blazers take down the Nuggets
Portland is fighting hard, but is failing in more ways than one.
The Portland Trail Blazers lost 120-108 to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. The Blazers were unable to overcome the strong offensive performance presented by the Nuggets in the fourth quarter, despite their wonderful offensive performance.
The Blazers were led in scoring by Scott Henderson, who finished the game with 30 points, and Anfernee Simmons, who scored 29 points.
The Nuggets were led by Nikola Jokic, who recorded a triple-double with 27 points, 22 rebounds and 12 assists.
The Nuggets started the game by making a definitive statement that they wanted to win. They jumped out to a 10-2 lead just over three minutes into the game, preventing the Blazers from getting anything going on offense early.
The bench came in and provided some energy for Portland, but Denver’s lead continued to grow. A pair of 3-pointers from Matisse Thybulle and Dube Reith helped keep the lead from spiraling out of control, but the Nuggets still managed to maintain complete control of the game.
Denver held Portland to just 31% shooting in the first quarter while shooting 54% themselves. This disparity helped the Nuggets lead 33-20 at the end of the first half.
The Blazers team was able to reduce the gap slightly at the beginning of the second quarter, coinciding with Nikola Jokic sitting on the bench. Scott Henderson got off to another strong start, helping Portland capitalize on Jokic’s break.
A 12-0 run by the Blazers brought them back to a 41-40 lead with just over six minutes left in the first half. Henderson continued his strong play and scored his 13th point in the quarter less than five minutes before the end of the second quarter.
Portland’s impressive second quarter allowed them to survive Denver for a short while when Jokic returned to the game. The Nuggets were able to regain the lead late in the second quarter. After a bad shot in the first quarter, the Blazers led 12-18 in the second quarter, in which they beat Denver 35-26.
Henderson finished the quarter with 16 points, giving him 20 points in the first half. On the other hand, Jokic finished the first half with 11 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, keeping him poised for a triple-double.
Portland still trailed the Nuggets 59-55 at the end of the first half.
Jokic continued his dominance at the beginning of the second half. He scored six points in the first five minutes of the quarter as Denver brought its lead back to double digits. The Blazers’ defense allowed several easy chances on the run.
Anfernee Simons had a scoring spree that helped Portland get going on offense. He scored 15 points in the first nine minutes of the quarter. Unfortunately for the Blazers, the Nuggets’ offense continued to hum. Despite the lead, Denver’s lead remained relatively constant at around 10 points throughout the entire period.
A late push led by Simmons and Henderson helped close the gap just before the quarter ended. Portland trailed 92-84 heading into the fourth quarter.
Just as Henderson dominated the second half, the third quarter belonged to Simmons. He had 18 points in the third quarter to bring his total to 21 heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter
Denver tried to close the door on the Blazers early in the final frame. However, Portland was able to keep their foot in the door, matching the Nuggets almost basket-for-basket at the start of the quarter.
The Blazers continued to press offensively, forcing Denver to continue scoring. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be an issue for the Nuggets. Portland’s defense was unable to stop Denver from scoring at will, which made it difficult for the Blazers to make a significant impact up front.
The Nuggets were finally able to completely close the door on Portland, whose comeback attempt fell flat.
Stay tuned for an expanded recap of the game soon.
The result is square
The Blazers will stay in Denver for a rematch with the Nuggets at 5:30 PM PT on Sunday, February 4.