----- Gary Harris scores 27 points as the Denver Nuggets defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 113-112 Friday night at Moda Center.
Slow starts are becoming a habit for the Blazers and it proved costly on Friday night. The Denver Nuggets ripped the Blazers for 68 points in the first half building a 15-point lead and held on for a 113-112 win at Moda Center.
The Nuggets were unconscious in the first two quarters connecting on 52.1% of their shots including 9-for-15 from three-point range. The Blazers lacked intensity and focus on the defensive end of the floor giving Denver plenty of open shots. The Nuggets held a 68-53 lead at halftime.
The Blazers struggles defensively have continued now for a few weeks. “I think we have to be more aggressive and more locked in defensively,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “We can’t feel out the game… I believe a lot of defensive stuff is your mental preparation to begin with.
Portland did a great job of battling back in the second half. The Blazers outscored the Nuggets 32-23 in the third quarter with good execution on offense and better intensity on defense. The Blazers eventually clawed their way back and tied the game at 108-108 with 56.9 seconds to play.
CJ McCollum got an open mid-range jumper in the final moments of the game, but the shot came up short and bounced off the rim as time expired on the game clock.
''I saw CJ and he got a good look, it just didn't fall,'' Damian Lillard said about the final play. ''A lot of things we could have done to not be in that position, but we had our shot. It just didn't fall.''
McCollum scored a game-high 33 points. Jusuf Nurkic recorded his 12th double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Damian Lillard struggled on the night with just 15 points on 6-for-16 shooting. The Blazers made just 27.3% of their three-point shots on 6-for-22 shooting.
The win was the Nuggets fifth-straight, matching their longest winning streak on the season.
Up Next- The Trail Blazers will travel to San Antonio to meet the Spurs on Sunday afternoon. Game is scheduled to tip off at 4:00 PM.
Chad's Take- Blazers need to pretend like the first quarter is the third quarter in their next game.