Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/21/12
PORTLAND, Ore. -- On a night when the Denver Nuggets took down Portland's short-lived NBA record for 3-point futility, the Trail Blazers survived. The Nuggets went 0-for-22 from beyond the 3-point arc, shattering the mark the Blazers set 10 days earlier when they finished 0-for-20 in a win over Toronto. Even so, Denver pushed Portland to the wire before falling 101-93 Thursday at the Rose Garden. Nicolas Batum scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, and Portland (12-12) held off a Denver rally to record its fourth straight win, all in the midst of a six-game homestand. The Blazers prevailed despite shooting 35.9 percent from the field and losing the battle in rebounds (59-50), points in the paint (74-28) and fast-break points (31-7). "Weird. Ugly," Batum said, offering a description of the game. "We got the job done, but it was ... interesting tonight." "Sometimes you throw the stats out," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "It's not how well we play, but how we play." Portland -- which led the entire way -- played hard, if not always effectively. J.J. Hickson collected 18 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double and 14th of the season. The Blazers also got 20 points from Wesley Matthews, plus 12 points and 10 assists from rookie point guard Damian Lillard. The Blazers enjoyed a 42-point advantage in 3-point shots, making 14 of 36 from long distance. "The best thing about tonight was (the Nuggets) beat our record of 0-for-20," Batum said with a smile. "We're almost as happy about that as the win itself." Andre Iguodala was 0-for-6, Ty Lawson 0-for-4 and Corey Brewer and Jordan Hamilton 0-for-3 apiece from beyond the arc for the Nuggets. Leading scorer Danilo Gallinari was 0-for-2 on 3-point tries and 1-for-10 overall, scoring six points in 27 minutes. "If you make 3s, it's a different game -- a totally different game," Denver coach George Karl said. "I don't think anybody took a bad 3. ... If you're going to have that line out there, you have to use it. ... You need to shoot around 33 percent, and we were far from that tonight." Portland got the win without the services of its top scorer, LaMarcus Aldridge. The All-Star power forward sat out the game after spraining his ankle in Monday's 95-94 win over New Orleans. "We all took it upon ourselves individually to step up -- not to do anything out of the ordinary, but just do a little bit more and it'll make up for (Aldridge) not playing," Hickson said. "We did a great job of that." Iguodala, Lawson and Brewer scored 13 points apiece, and Andre Miller came off the bench to contribute 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for Denver (14-13), which saw its three-game winning streak end. Denver shot 38.8 percent from the field and made only one basket from outside the paint -- believed to be an NBA record, too. "We played through a lot of misery," Karl said. "The rhythm of the game was not in our favor, and our guys seemed to be worn out a little bit." The Nuggets trimmed what was an 18-point deficit in the second quarter to 78-75 with 6:16 remaining. Then Lillard -- 1-for-11 from the field at that point -- drained a 3-pointer. After a Javale McGee dunk at the other end, Batum sank another trey to make it 84-79. Miller's driving layup cut the Blazers' advantage to 84-81 with four minutes to play. Portland's edge was 87-83 with three minutes to play, but the Blazers scored the next six points -- four of them by Batum -- to seal the verdict. Luke Babbitt came off the bench to play a key role for the Blazers. The third-year forward notched season highs in points (14) and rebounds (eight), sinking four of seven from 3-point range before fouling out late in the game with his third straight game scoring in double digits. "His ability to make shots gives us an extra dimension," Stotts said. "Denver went small a lot, so it was a game where Luke was able to have an impact. With (Aldridge) being out, that's 38 minutes somebody was going to get, and Luke took advantage of it." Portland led 50-40 at halftime despite both teams shooting 37.5 percent from the field. The difference: The Blazers were 7-for-16 from 3-point range, the Nuggets 0-for-8. Hickson had 12 points and nine rebounds at the break, but Lillard -- who finished 3-for-14 -- was 0 for 6 from the field through intermission. NOTES: Matthews, who missed all but 3 1/2 minutes of the last three games with a hip injury, was back in the Blazers' starting lineup. ... Karl has 49 wins as a head coach against the Trail Blazers -- more than any other active coach. Karl, seventh on the NBA career list with 1,088 wins, is still feeling the effects of a flu bug that hit the Nuggets the last week. "I'm feeling better, but I'm still not 100 percent," Karl said before the game, adding with a smile, "Hopefully my voice will last. (The players) probably hope it won't last."
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