The Portland Trail Blazers are 3-0 to start the season after knocking of their Northwest rival Denver Nuggets 111-102 on Thursday. The Nuggets, who fall to 2-1, had begun the season with impressive blowout wins over the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz, but Portland presented a bigger challenge. Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 25 points on sharp 9-15 shooting, and Raymond Felton had a breakout game with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Surprisingly, Denver's offense was the problem, which says a lot about Portland's defense. Ty Lawson was brilliant (25 points on 10-16 shooting, 2-3 on threes) on offense, but Arron Afflalo was the only other Nugget who hit his shots. Denver couldn't make up for all of the misses on the glass; the Nuggets had just three offensive rebounds in 46 opportunities. A few more second-chance buckets could have made all the difference.
Portland won despite muted offensive efforts from LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace (13 points each) and a mammoth turnover disadvantage (25 to seven for Denver). That Portland can beat a good team with such an imperfect performance says something about this squad.