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Portland at Denver

Nuggets, Nene pounce on wounded Trail Blazers

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets couldn't stop Wesley Matthews. It was a sprained ankle that finally slowed him down.

Nene had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups scored 20 points each and the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 109-90 on Wednesday night.

The already injury-riddled Blazers suffered another blow when Matthews sprained his right ankle late in the second quarter. Matthews, who scored 17 points in his first 18 minutes, rolled his ankle as he planted his right foot on a drive to the bucket with just over two minutes remaining in the half. He walked to the locker room with assistance.

"That's the ankle that's been messed up," said Matthews, who had a team-high 19 points. "I heard some pops, heard and felt some pops. It calmed down and I was able to return again."

Matthews started the second half but left after 19 seconds when he suffered a knee-to-knee hit. He returned to start the fourth quarter but scored just two points.

"The way he walked off the court in the first half I thought there was no way he was coming back," Denver coach George Karl said.

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It's another in a rash of injuries to hit Portland, which has lost 164 man games to injury this season. Five players have had knee surgery this year, including Greg Oden, Marcus Camby, Brandon Roy and rookie Elliot Williams. Williams and Oden are out for the season, while Roy and Camby are expected back after the All-Star break.

In addition, center Joel Przybilla missed the first 18 games of the season with a right knee injury and a stomach flu.

Matthews vowed the ankle, which he said he initially hurt in practice two weeks ago, won't keep him out of the lineup.

"I'm always going to come out here and play for my teammates," he said. "I can't afford to get hurt, can't afford to let something slow me down. If I'm walking, I'm good."

LaMarcus Aldridge added 18 points and nine rebounds for Portland.

Portland stayed in the game despite Matthews' limited play. The Blazers led 68-67 late in the third when Billups hit two 3-pointers to give Denver a 73-70 lead.

J.R. Smith hit two free throws, Rudy Fernandez missed a 3-pointer at the other end and Kenyon Martin's dunk just beat the buzzer to put the Nuggets ahead 77-70 heading into the fourth.

Two free throws by Aldridge made it 81-74, but Smith hit a 3-pointer and Arron Afflalo made a short jumper to give Denver a 12-point lead.

"The second half they got going," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "Chauncey started to knock down some shots, Smith got hot and we gave up 64 points in the second half."

Andre Miller cut it to nine with a free throw and Portland had a chance to slice deeper into the lead, but a turnover led to a Smith dunk and the Nuggets were never seriously threatened.

The Nuggets didn't think Matthews' injury was a factor.

"We were focused in the third quarter," Billups said. "It didn't matter who was out there.

The Trail Blazers, coming off a win Tuesday night against San Antonio, led by one at halftime. Portland shot just 40.5 percent before the break but went 7 for 9 from 3-point range to get the lead. Miller's floater in the lane just before the halftime buzzer gave them the lead.

The Nuggets stayed close by outrebounding the Blazers 23-14 and shooting 50 percent from the field to that point.

Notes

  • Al Harrington returned from a strained left foot, which meant the Nuggets had their full team, including coach, available for the entire game for the first time in more than a year.
  • Including last season, the Trail Blazers' last four games in Denver have come on the second night of back-to-back games.
  • Denver is 20-2 at home against Portland since the 2000-01 season.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Nene goes to the basket past Trail Blazers center Chris Johnson as he works toward his 22 points and 10 rebounds. (AP)
Nene goes to the basket past Trail Blazers center Chris Johnson as he works toward his 22 points and 10 rebounds. (AP)
Scoreboard
Portland (26-23)2323242090
Denver (29-20) «22233232109
POR:W. Matthews 19 Pts
POR:L. Aldridge 9 Reb
POR:A. Miller 10 Ast
DEN:Nene 22 Pts
DEN:Nene 10 Reb
DEN:C. Billups 5 Ast
Players of the Game
PortlandDenver

LaMarcus Aldridge

Nene
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
189222103

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Portland
L. Aldridge, PF417-144-592218
N. Batum, SF406-121-214417
A. Miller, PG363-145-6610111
W. Matthews, SG286-84-542319
J. Przybilla, C140-00-03230
R. Fernandez, SG262-61-22326
D. Cunningham, SF264-82-241110
P. Mills, PG122-70-01115
C. Johnson, C121-30-22122
S. Marks, PF30-10-01000
L. Babbitt, SF31-20-00002
M. Camby, CDid Not Play
B. Roy, SGDid Not Play
G. Oden, CDid Not Play
E. Williams, SGDid Not Play
Totals 32-7517-2433261990
 42.7%70.8% 
Denver
A. Afflalo, SG372-94-55429
C. Anthony, SF367-156-651320
Nene, C329-134-5103122
C. Billups, PG318-120-015220
K. Martin, PF285-80-082111
J. Smith, SG275-95-632216
A. Harrington, PF223-50-09157
T. Lawson, PG160-42-26122
C. Andersen, PF71-20-21002
S. Williams, PF20-00-00000
G. Forbes, SF20-00-00000
A. Carter, PGDid Not Play
M. Ely, CDid Not Play
R. Balkman, SFDid Not Play
Totals 40-7721-26481918109
 51.9%80.8% 
Other Games
Tor 87 Final
Atl 100
Ind 117 Final
Cle 112
Phi 106 Final
NJ 92
Char 97 Final
Det 87
Dal 113 Final
NY 97
Mem 102 Final
Min 84
NO 93 Final
OKC 104
Mil 77 Final
Pho 92
Hou 97 Final
Utah 96
Chi 106 Final
LAC 88