Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/21/12
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Nicolas Batum scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Portland Trail Blazers hold off a Denver Nuggets rally in a 101-93 victory Thursday night at the Rose Garden. It was the fourth straight win for the Trail Blazers (12-12), all in the midst of a six-game homestand. J.J. Hickson collected 18 points and 18 rebounds for Portland, which led the entire way. The Blazers also got 20 points from Wesley Matthews, plus 12 points and 10 assists from Damian Lillard. Portland won despite shooting .388 from the field. The Blazers had a 42-point advantage in 3-point shots, however, going 14-for-36 while Denver went 0-for-22. The Nuggets shattered Portland's NBA record for futility from beyond the arc, set Dec. 10 when the Blazers went 0-for-20 in a 92-74 triumph over the Toronto Raptors. Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer shared team-high honors for the Nuggets (14-13) with 13 points apiece. Denver 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. Andre Miller's driving layup for Denver 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. Portland led 50-40 at halftime despite both teams shooting .375 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. Lillard -- who finished 3-for-14 -- was 0-for-6 from the field through intermission. NOTES: Portland power forward LaMarcus Aldridge missed a game for the second time this season because of a sprained left ankle he suffered in Monday's victory over New Orleans. Rookie Joel Freeland started in his place, and he scored two points. ... 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. ... Denver's George 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." ... Karl said with Aldridge out, Lillard is "our No. 1 priority (defensively). He's poised offensively, likes to take the big shot and is savvy defensively." ... The Nuggets entered the game with three consecutive wins, including victories over Western Conference contenders Memphis and San Antonio. "Our defense has gotten more consistently good," Karl said. "We like to play fast and score a lot of points, but our defense has to be competitive consistently, and that has happened. We played with confidence against Memphis and San Antonio. Early in the season, we weren't getting consistency from our big three (Danilo Gallinari, Iguodala and Lawson), and now we are."
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