Denver 109, Portland 93

PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 14 (AP) -- Playing in just his second game with the Denver Nuggets, Steve Blake showed the Portland Trail Blazers what they've been missing.

Blake, traded to Milwaukee in the offseason and acquired by Denver from the Bucks last week, had a career-high 25 points against his former team Sunday night, in Denver's 109-93 victory over Portland.

"I'm not surprised because a good basketball player is a good basketball player and that's what he is,'' said Blake's new teammate, Allen Iverson.

Iverson had 32 points and nine assists for the Nuggets, who trailed at halftime but outscored the Blazers 41-17 in the third quarter.

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for Denver, coming off a 90-86 loss Friday to the Houston Rockets.

Blake was acquired by Denver on Thursday in a trade that sent Earl Boykins to Milwaukee. He started in the backcourt for Portland last season with Juan Dixon.

"It's better than good,'' Blake said about his new home. "It's been a lot of fun. We're playing the style I like to play. Coach is letting me get the ball and push it. And with the players we have on this team, you can't help but be successful.''

The Blazers, coming off a victory over the Sacramento Kings 95-87 on Friday, have lost eight of their last 10.

Rookie Sergio Rodriguez scored a career-high 23 points and had 10 assists for Portland.

The Blazers' starters were largely ineffective, contributing just 20 points. Center Joel Przybilla and point guard Dan Dickau combined to play 23 minutes and did not score.

"The first unit just couldn't get it going,'' Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "Not only did they have a difficult time offensively in the third quarter - but in giving up 41 points it looks like they didn't defend anyone.''

The Nuggets at times triple-teamed Portland forward Zach Randolph, who scored four points on 1-of-12 shooting. Randolph was averaging 23.9 points and 10.1 rebounds going into the game.

Randolph said he gets triple-teamed "all the time.'' That wasn't his problem.

"I couldn't hit a shot,'' he said. "The ball wouldn't go in. It was one of the nights.''

Portland guard Jarrett Jack, who was in a car accident on Friday, remained out with a concussion. Dickau made his second start in Jack's place.

Iverson scored eight straight points in the first quarter to put Denver up 21-13. The Nuggets led by as many as 12 points early but the Blazers closed the gap, and took a 36-35 lead on Dixon's jumper.

Rodriguez hit a pull-up jumper and a layup to give the Blazers a 51-43 lead. Portland outscored the Nuggets 37-18 in the second quarter and led 56-49 at the half.

The Nuggets opened the second half on an 18-0 run to take a 67-56 lead they would never relinquish. Iverson's bank shot at 10:19 pulled the Nuggets into a 56-56 tie. Blake capped the run with his fifth 3-pointer.

The Blazers' first points of the second half came at 6:54 on a Raef LaFrentz free throw.

Blake surpassed his career high of 23 set while he was a Blazer against Houston last March 5.

"We stepped up defense in the third quarter and turned good defense into good offense,'' Blake said. "We were pushing it and making shots. We were clicking as a team.''

Carmelo Anthony, Denver's leading scorer, was still serving a 15-game suspension because of the altercation against the New York Knicks on Dec. 16. Anthony returns Jan. 22 against Memphis.

Notes: The Blazers' 37 second-quarter points were a season high. ... Denver's 41 third-quarter points were the team's season-high, too. ... Denver has won eight straight games against the Blazers, and 12 of the last 13.


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