Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/2/13
The last time the Trail Blazers won a game in Denver, LaMarcus Aldridge was lounging comfortably in his Oregon home nursing a nagging case of plantar fasciitis. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” Aldridge said of the December 2007 victory. “I stayed home and watched the game … in my theatre. And I haven’t won here since.” Until Friday night. In an amazing about face from opening night, the Blazers were smooth on offense, sturdy on defense and dominant all around, defeating the Denver Nuggets 113-98 before a sellout crowd at the Pepsi Center. The impressive victory didn’t just help the Blazers (1-1) recover from the hangover of their opening night meltdown at Phoenix, it also put to rest a run of remarkable streaks. It ended a 14-game losing streak that dated back to last season. It ended a 23-game regular-season home winning streak for the Nuggets. And, perhaps most surprising, it ended a nine-game losing streak for the Blazers in Denver that dated back to that aforementioned game Aldridge watched from his home theatre. After dropping 18 of their previous 19 visits to Denver, the Blazers finally put their Mile High Malaise behind them. “Finally,” Nicolas Batum said, raising his fist in the air and pumping in mock celebration. “Now the only arena I haven’t won in is Boston.” But while erasing those Denver demons and ending a slew of streaks was nice, what was most important for the here and now was the way the Blazers played. Their defense was solid. Their offense was fluid and multi-dimensional. Their demeanor was poised and focused. In short, the Blazers were everything they weren’t in that humbling defeat to the Suns. The Blazers attacked the Nuggets (0-2) in a variety of ways, with a variety of weapons, as a different player carried the offensive load each quarter. Batum started hot, scoring the Blazers’ first 10 points and 15 of 24 in the first. Damian Lillard caught fire in the second, recording 13 points and three assists. And Wesley Matthews was a beast in third, scoring 12 consecutive Blazers points and 14 overall as the Blazers built a commanding 26-point lead. Of course, in fitting fashion considering how this series has gone over the years, the Nuggets slowly crept back into the game. With Andre Miller being Andre Miller and Nate Robinson sinking everything in sight in the fourth, the Nuggets trimmed that mammoth lead down to eight points with less than five minutes remaining. That’s when Aldridge made his imprint. After bricking two free throws, Aldridge asked for the ball and coach Terry Stotts answered the wish, calling consecutive plays for Aldridge on the low block. Then the two-time All-Star delivered, burying back-to-back fadeaway jumpers over former teammate JJ Hickson before following with two more midrange jumpers to ice the game.
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