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Guard Trio Carries Trail Blazers To Win, 3-0 Record

12/30/11
  1. Written by: trailblazers



    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)
    Wesley Matthews had 25 points, including five 3-pointers in the second half, and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Denver Nuggets 111-102 on Thursday night to stay undefeated after three games this season despite turning the ball over 25 times.

    “We found a way to get a win," said Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan. "Denver is a very good team and they pose some matchup problems for you, a challenge defensively trying to guard their spread offense and their small unit. But we found a way in the second half. We did a bad job of taking care of the ball – we didn’t take care of the ball. 25 turnovers, you really don’t win a lot of games with 25 turnovers in a ball game. We were just too loose with the ball, too many guys trying to do too much with the ball. But when we needed to get stops, I thought we made some plays."

    Raymond Felton had 23 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:45 left as the Blazers pulled away from the Nuggets, to go along with six assists and five rebounds. Jamal Crawford also the best game of his three-game old Trail Blazers career, finishing the night with 22 points and five rebounds.

    Portland, which opened the season with wins over Philadelphia and Sacramento, led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but committed 17 more turnovers than the Nuggets, allowing the away team to stay in the game.

    Ty Lawson had 25 points and eight steals for the Nuggets, who dropped their first game of the season. Denver was coming off a 117-100 victory over Utah on Wednesday night.

    The two teams traded point guards on NBA draft night in June. The Blazers got Felton, now a starter, while the Nuggets got Andre Miller, who backs up Lawson.

    The Nuggets also have former Blazer Rudy Fernandez on their roster. The Spanish shooter was traded to Dallas on draft night, then sent to Denver in a deal earlier this month.

    Felton hugged Karl on the court just before the game started, and Miller was greeted with hearty applause when he came into the game midway through the first quarter.

    The Blazers jumped out to a 30-17 lead in the first quarter after Nicolas Batum's pass to Kurt Thomas for the layup under the basket. The 13-point lead came despite eight turnovers in the opening period.

    Denver closed to 44-41 on Danilo Gallinari's dunk with just over four minutes to go before the break. Al Harrington hit a driving layup to pull the Nuggets even at 53 at halftime.

    Lawson pulled the Nuggets in front 57-55 early in the second half, but Matthews made four three pointers and the Blazers went back up 69-63 midway through the third quarter.

    The Blazers clung to the lead until former teammate Fernandez made a layup and a 3-pointer to tie it at 84 early in the fourth.

    After Lawson hit a 3-pointer to make it 98-all midway through the final period, Jamal Crawford hit a free throw - for his 14th point of the quarter - and Matthews sunk a jumper and a 3-pointer to give Portland an 104-98 lead.

    “(Matthews) carried us," said LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 13 points, six assists and five rebounds. "He definitely carried us through a tough stretch. He made I think four or five in a row and that was big, that bought us time for Jamal to come in the game and for Ray to start making shots.”

    With three home wins in their pocket, the Trail Blazers embark on their first road trip of the season starting in Los Angeles for a game against the Clippers. Tipoff is schedule for 7:30 PM.

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