Down their best player, the Portland Trail Blazers used a balanced scoring attack to beat the Denver Nuggets, 101-93, Thursday night. With LaMarcus Aldridge sidelined with a sprained ankle, the Blazers had five players score in double figures, led by Nicolas Batum's 22 points.
Portland led wire to wire, thanks in part to Denver's inability to shoot jump shots. The Nuggets were a combined 0-22 from three-point range and didn't score from outside the paint until the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Portland got a huge game from J.J. Hickson, who scored 18 points and pulled down 18 rebounds. Rookie Damian Lillard scored 12 points and dished out 10 assists. Luke Babbitt added 14 points off the bench.
The win moved Portland to 12-12, a 1/2 game behind the Nuggets for third place in the Northwest Division and one game within the Minnesota Timberwolves for second place. The Trail Blazers next play when they host the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. Denver heads home to host the Charlotte Bobcats Saturday night.