Denver Nuggets 100, Portland Trail Blazers 119: Three Takeaways

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyroNBA

The Denver Nuggets continued to showcase their ability to fight through adversity Tuesday night in Portland, but a shorthanded Mile High squad fell 119-100 to the Trail Blazers, which extended Denver’s losing streak to five games. Nikola Jokić missed his third-consecutive game with a right wrist sprain.

The two teams struggled to find a rhythm to begin the game, with Portland building a slight, one-point lead midway through the opening frame. Jeff Green (7 points) and Aaron Gordon (5) fueled all of Denver’s offense in the early going. Early turnovers hurt the Nuggets throughout the quarter as the Trail Blazers secured a 33-27 lead after one after scoring 12 points off eight Denver turnovers.

A 5-0 run over the opening minutes of the second quarter helped Denver stay in the game as both teams went to bench-heavy lineups. Hot 3-point shooting helped the Nuggets take a brief lead at 49-48 towards the end of the quarter. Denver knocked down nine 3-pointers in the first half, with three of those coming from Green alone. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, Portland closed the first half on an 18-3 run, which resulted in a 66-52 lead at the break for the home team.

As Denver struggled to hit shots to begin the second half, the Trail Blazers pushed the lead to 76-59, the largest advantage of the night up until that point. The Nuggets responded with a 13-4 run to pull within eight points with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Portland slightly extended the lead backup to 90-79 heading into the final frame.

Neither team had much of an advantage to begin the fourth quarter, as the teams traded buckets throughout the first six minutes of the frame, which resulted in a 104-92 lead for Portland. The Trail Blazers blew the game open in the ensuing minutes, using a 9-2 run to push the lead up to 19. Both teams went deep into their bench rotation following the ensuing timeout.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s loss.

Uncle Jeff steps up again

After a slow start to the season, Jeff Green appears to have found a rhythm for the Nuggets, as the 35-year-old veteran followed up his season-high 19 points in Phoenix Sunday night with… another season-high of 24 points (on 9-of-16 from the field).

After dropping 15 of those points in the first half, Green also chipped in with three assists and three blocks on the night in his 35 minutes of action. With the veteran forward consistently having a size or quickness advantage against his matchup, he became Denver’s focal point on the offensive end Tuesday night.

Denver catches fire from deep

The Nuggets were competitive throughout the majority of the first half as a result of hot shooting from downtown, a story that Nuggets Nation hasn’t been used to throughout the season.

Denver hit 9-of-16 from beyond the arc in the first half, which helped overcome early turnover struggles. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, the shots didn’t fall as much in the second half (just six made 3-pointers), which hurt the team’s shorthanded offense as Portland took advantage.

In the end, 45.5 percent from deep is certainly a rate the Nuggets would welcome on a more regular basis moving forward.

Turnovers hold back Denver’s offense

Given the number of injuries Denver was pushing through Tuesday night in Portland, it would have taken a near complete effort to pull off the upset against a Trail Blazers team that had won eight-consecutive games at home heading into Tuesday’s contest.

Unfortunately for the Nuggets, struggles to take care of the ball sunk them against Portland, as they committed 19 turnovers on the night. To add further damage, the Trail Blazers scored 32 points off those mistakes, which was too much to overcome for Denver.

The Nuggets are back in action Friday night at Ball Arena against the Milwaukee Bucks (7 p.m. MT).

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