Trail Blazers Vs. Nuggets Preview
November 1st, 2013
By JEFF BARTL
The Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers each ended last season in disappointing fashion, and the 2013-14 campaign hasn't exactly gotten off to a rousing start, either.
Both teams will look to bounce back from season-opening losses as Denver seeks a 10th straight home victory over Portland on Friday night.
The Nuggets won a franchise-record 57 games before being knocked out of the playoffs by Golden State in the first round, leading to the firing of Coach of the Year George Karl.
The Brian Shaw era didn't begin so well Wednesday, as Denver lost 90-88 at Sacramento. Ty Lawson, playing despite a groin injury, scored 20 points but missed a potential tying layup in the closing seconds.
J.J. Hickson, Randy Foye and Andre Miller added 12 points apiece for the Nuggets, who committed 19 turnovers and trailed by as many as 13. They also played without Wilson Chandler, who is day to day with a hamstring injury.
"Execution of small details. We have such a small margin of error, we have to do all the little things," Shaw told the team's official website. "We should win that game, but 19 turnovers for 21 points on top of those small details that we didn't take care of is not going to get it done for us."
Portland didn't give itself much of a chance in its opener as it trailed by 14 at the end of the first quarter before falling 104-91 at Phoenix on Wednesday. It marked the team's 14th straight loss dating back to last season.
"It wasn't a help that we got off to a slow offensive start," said reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, who scored 32 points. "We dug a hole and then got back into the game but they turned it up on us."
Coach Terry Stotts wasn't pleased either.
"All the things that we've been working on, we had a setback," Stotts said. "Transition defense, we were slow reacting to that."
LaMarcus Aldridge added 28 points, but no other Blazer scored in double figures. Portland got only 12 points from the bench after averaging 18.5 from its substitutes last season, by far the worst mark in the league.
"It's one game, we have to take the good and the bad," Lillard said. "We did some things well, but obviously we've got some things we need to go back and fix. The good thing is we have another game Friday."
Playing in Denver hasn't gone very well for Portland in recent years, though. The Blazers have lost 18 of the last 19 meetings in the Mile High City, including both last season when they dropped all three matchups with the Nuggets.
Hickson was on the losing end of those defeats while with Portland for his only season. He signed a three-year, $15 million deal with Denver in July.
"I'm excited to play my previous team. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't," Hickson said. "But I'm not going to go out and do anything that I don't (normally) do. I'm going to play my game and try to get a win."
Lillard scored 30 points as Aldridge sat out the most recent meeting April 14, when Evan Fournier finished with a career-high 24 points to help the Nuggets win 118-109.