----- The Nuggets use a 35-23 fourth quarter advantage to drop the Trail Blazers 119-110 Friday night at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
The Trail Blazers ran out of gas Friday night in Denver.
Playing without Jusuf Nurkic, CJ McCollum, and Seth Curry, the Blazers put up a valiant effort against the Nuggets, but fatigue became a factor in the fourth quarter and Portland wilted in the mile-high air.
The Blazers led 87-84 entering the fourth quarter thanks to a 23-11 run to close out the third, but the Nuggets dominated the fourth en route to a 119-110 victory at the Pepsi Center.
The Nuggets outscored the Blazers 35-23 in the final period connecting on 58.3% of their shots while scoring 18 points in the paint. Denver dominated the glass pulling down seven offensive rebounds leading to a 7-0 advantage in second-chance points.
Damian Lillard looked to have tired legs as he struggled to get his offense going. He finished with just 14 points on 3-for-14 shooting.
Enes Kanter entered the night having averaged 17.5 points and 11 rebounds over his last five games. He led the Blazers with 24 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Al-Farouq Aminu added a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds and Rodney Hood scored 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
Jake Layman broke out of his slump scoring 15 points off the bench on 6-for-10 shooting and Evan Turner added 15 points and three assists.
The game looked more like a wrestling match at times due to the contact the officials allowed on both ends leaving players frustrated in disbelief at some of the no-calls.
“It was a physical game,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “The free-throw disparity in the first half was pretty great. I think we adjusted to that in the second half. I thought they were the more physical team in the first half and were able to be physical with us and I thought we adjusted. The game had a lot of ebbs and flows for both teams.”
Denver (53-26) clinched the Northwest Division with the win and improved their record to 33-7 at Pepsi Center. The 33 home wins are the most since 2012-13 when they set a franchise record with 38.
Up Next- The Trail Blazers will play the second of a home and home with the Nuggets Sunday at Moda Center. The game is scheduled to tip off at 6:00 PM.
Chad's Take- The officials were terrible tonight. They allowed too much contact on both ends resulting in a game that resembled a cage-match. Portland really missed the shooting of Seth Curry tonight. He could have opened up space for Dame to operate when Denver was throwing multiple guys at him to force the ball from his hands.