Trail Blazers vs Nuggets Sunday, 04/14/13 AT 02:00PM

Lillard Goes For 30 In Loss To Nuggets

  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0


    Damian Lillard went for 30 points, including 20 in the second half to go along with six assists and five rebounds but it wasn't enough as the Trail Blazers (33-47) lost a high-scoring, 118-109 game to the Denver Nuggets (55-25).

    Early on in the game, the Denver Nuggets were dealt yet again another blow to their roster. Kenneth Faried went down with a left ankle injury in the early going of the game and did not return. It didn't seem to bother the Nuggets much as they were outrunning the young Trail Blazers without LaMarcus Aldridge, who was a late scratch with a right ankle sprain, as well as Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum.

    Will Barton, in his third straight start, was aggressive from the tip all the way until the final buzzer and he had 11 of his 17 points in the first half to go along with five of his nine rebounds. JJ Hickson showed that he was bouncing back from his lower back problems and had a solid outing of 19 points, nine rebounds and a career-high six assists. Meyers Leonard scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds in the start.

    The Nuggets were doing what they will always do and they kept running the floor and taking advantage of the Trail Blazers' rather sloppy passing. The Trail Blazers had 13 turnovers in the first half and the Nuggets took advantage in every way. The Nuggets extended their first half lead to as much as 20, but a Sasha Pavlovic (eight points) three-pointer cut the lead to 17 at half.

    "I don't know if it was fatigue in the first half. The turnovers, obviously was of concern, particularly the first half. I thought we had some careless passes that led to their 18 points in transition. I liked the way we stayed with it in the second half and cutting it to four," said Terry Stotts.

    The Trail Blazers kept fighting as they would not let themselves be walked over by a Nuggets team trying to keep their now one-game lead over the Clippers for the Western Conference's third seed. The Trail Blazers would claw back with high-energy play and of course, Damian Lillard.

    Lillard, despite eight turnovers, helped the Trail Blazers claw back into this game by doing a little bit of everything. He was aggressive in taking the ball to the hoop, got to the line seven times, making six free-throws and he also made four of his 10 three-point attempts. Also, Lillard's fourth three helped him tie Damon Stoudemire for the franchise record in three-pointers made in a season with 181. Lillard also had six assists, five rebounds and he tied a season-high mark with two blocks.

    The back and forth kept going and the Trail Blazers did a much better job of getting back in transition and not allowing the Nuggets so many easy points. Also, Eric Maynor helped in a big way, as Portland's small line-ups with Maynor and Lillard helped the Trail Blazers get quality possessions. Maynor finished with 14 points off the bench, including going three of six from deep.

    "It didn't seem like we were as fatigued," Stotts said with regards to the Mile High air and the Trail Blazers' improved second half. "I thought we took better care of the ball for the most part. Damian was terrific, as he's been all season and I thought he kind of carried the team. The small line-up opened up the court a little bit for us. I thought Joel Freeland (seven minutes, one rebound, one assist), in the second half gave us good energy and JJ was good all second half as well. I thought more than anything else we stayed with it and didn't make the mental mistakes that I think hurt us in the first half."

    “It was fine in the second half. I thought we really gained a lot of confidence when we made some stops, got some steals and got out and got some easy buckets. I thought we got the lead down to I think two [points] at one point. We started to believe that we could win this game,” said Damian Lillard.

    Luke Babbitt also helped with the spacing, although he was unable to connect on this six three-point attempts on the night. Victor Claver also brought good energy, scoring nine points to go along with four rebounds as well as going two of four from three, including a big one during Portland's fourth quarter run. The Trail Blazers got the Nuggets into the penalty with a lot of time on the clock, but they left a couple of points that could have helped the run at the charity stripe. They got the deficit down to as much as low as three with 3:22 left.

    The back breaking plays for the Trail Blazers started with Andre Iguodala, once again showing that he deserves consideration in Defensive Player of The Year discussions. He was getting baskets, setting guys up and grabbing boards on his way to 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds but the straw that broke the camel's back on the comeback so-to-speak, was a steal of Eric Maynor that led to an open corner three by Evan Fournier (24 points) that put Denver up by 9 with 2:40 left.

    Lillard gave Portland a ray of hope with a three to cut the lead to six with 1:29 left but Ty Lawson promptly cut off the power with a lay-up only 10 seconds later.

    The Trail Blazers now travel to Lob City as they face the Los Angeles Clippers, who are in a dog fight with these same Nuggets for that third seed in the west. Tip-off will be at 7:30 and it will be shown nationally on TNT. It can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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