----- Jusuf Nurkic once again gets the better of his former team with 17 points and five rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers defeat the Denver Nuggets 99-82 Monday night at Moda Center.
Tonight was a nice bounce-back win for the Trail Blazers. After losing to the Nets on Friday night, the Blazers responded with their most complete game of the season in a 99-82 rout of the Denver Nuggets. Portland connected on 52.1% of their shots and used a 30-17 third quarter to put the game away.
Jusuf Nurkic responded to his fourth quarter benching on Friday by scoring 17 points and grabbing five rebounds against his former team. Nurkic also played solid defense limiting Nuggets center, Nikola Jokic to just six points and seven rebounds.
In an effort to give his team a spark, Terry Stotts put Caleb Swanigan in the starting lineup in place of Noah Vonleh. Swanigan responded with six points and five rebounds before getting into foul trouble in the second half. After the game, Terry Stotts said he may use Swanigan in the starting lineup again.
Portland (7-6) got 17 points from CJ McCollum and 15 points and seven assists from Damian Lillard. The Blazers received a big boost from their bench with 42 points. Evan Turner scored 14 points and dished out five assists while Noah Vonleh added eight points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Denver (8-6) got 18 points from Jamal Murray and 18 points and five rebounds from Paul Milsap. The Nuggets struggled on offense scoring a season-low 82 points while connecting on just 35.7% of their field goals. The Blazers outscored the Nuggets in the paint 42-32 and had a 43-35 edge in rebounding.
Next up- Portland will host Orlando on Wednesday night at Moda Center. The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:00 PM.
Chad's Take- Terrific game from the Blazers tonight. I thought the player movement and ball movement to start the game was solid and as a result, the Blazers had a number of open shots. Portland shot better than 50% for the game. I liked Terry Stotts using Caleb Swanigan in the starting lineup. Swanigan made an impact in the first half before getting into foul trouble. His energy and work habits are contagious. The Blazers bench dominated with a 42-14 scoring advantage coming on a night when Lillard and McCollum combined for just 32 points. The key for the Blazers moving forward will be duplicating this performance on Wednesday night against Orlando. This team is still seeking an identity and searching for consistency.