The Portland Trail Blazers nearly let the Denver Nuggets get away from them Thursday night before reeling them back in. In typical fashion, the Blazers rallied and held strong down the stretch behind a career night from LaMarcus Aldridge to eke out a victory, 110-105, at the Moda Center.
After trailing by eight at halftime, the Blazers finally drew even with Denver early in the fourth quarter and the game tightened up down the stretch. Portland was able to get a stop on a Ty Lawson step-back jumper with 27 seconds left and Aldridge sealed the game on free throws.
He led all scorers with 44 points on 15-of-29 shooting, adding 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Wesley Matthews had 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including just two three-pointers, adding four assists. Nicolas Batum scored just six points but had 10 assists, seven rebounds and two steals.
Portland's typically-porous first-half defense was front-and-center, as it allowed Denver to shoot 58.5 percent in the first half on the way to a 67-59 lead at the break. Nate Robinson was a spark off the bench for the Nuggets, scoring 13 points in nine minutes in the first two quarters.
Damian Lillard throws it down during the second quarter.
The Nuggets continued their hot shooting through the third quarter but the Blazers began to slowly chip at their lead. Portland leads the league in third-quarter scoring and Thursday was no different, with a five-point advantage in the period.
For Denver, Wilson Chandler had 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting , adding three rebounds. Ty Lawson added 13 points on just 3-of-11 shooting, including a game-high 11 assists.
Portland moves to 32-11 on the year, good enough for third in the Western Conference. The loss drops the Nuggets to 20-21, tying them for 10th in the West with the Minnesota Timberwolves.