NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 23rd (All times Eastern)
Denver Nuggets (20-20) at Portland Trail Blazers (31-11), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Trail Blazers return home from a brutal, but mildly successful road trip Thursday night, when they host Northwest Division rivals, the Denver Nuggets.
Portland won the first two of its four-game set over the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, but dropped the last two versus the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Against the red-hot Thunder on Tuesday, the Blazers, much like everyone else in the NBA, had no answer for Kevin Durant.
Durant scored 11 of his 46 points in the final 3:23 to lift the Thunder over the Trail Blazers, 105-97. Durant went 17-of-25 from the field and 6-of-7 from beyond the arc for the Thunder. who took a one-game lead over Portland for first place in the Northwest Division.
LaMarcus Aldridge ended with 29 points and 16 boards for the Blazers. Wesley Matthews tallied 21 points in defeat. Damian Lillard (14), Mo Williams (13) and Robin Lopez (10) also scored in double figures and Lopez also pulled down 10 rebounds.
"It was disappointing to lose the game, but on the road against Oklahoma City if you can put yourself in position to win the game late in the fourth quarter, that's what you want. I thought we played a very good game," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
Aldridge and Lillard received some good news on Thursday morning. They were among the 28 players USA Basketball has selected for its men's national team pool for 2014-16.
Denver's Kenneth Faried also made the list for the American side. The Nuggets could use the good news since they've lost two in a row, three of four and announced on Wednesday that Danilo Gallinari underwent another surgery on his knee and he'd be gone for the season.
On Sunday, the Nuggets were trounced by the Phoenix Suns, 117-103.
Anthony Randolph paced the Nuggets with a season-high 19 points while Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler and Evan Fournier all notched 17 points. Lawson also handed out 14 assists in the setback.
"It seemed like they were just taking turns scoring on us," said Denver coach Brian Shaw. "You can't continually give up 117 points and expect to win."
During this poor run, the Nuggets have allowed 117 points per game. In their only win over the last four, Denver even surrendered 116 points, but got lucky enough to post 123 of its own.
The Blazers beat the Nuggets by 15 in Denver on Nov. 1 to snap a three-game series losing streak. The Blazers are 8-2 in their last 10 at home against the Nuggets.
01/23 10:25:40 ET