Trail Blazers vs Nuggets Wednesday, 02/02/11 AT 06:00PM

Portland Looks to Heat Up Denver

  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 5.0

    It's below freezing in Colorado, but the Portland Trail Blazers (26-22) hope to warm up quickly for a matchup with the Denver Nuggets (28-20) on Wednesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 PM.

    Projected to start are Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Przybilla, Wesley Matthews and Andre Miller.

    The Trail Blazers built up a full head of steam last night, defeating the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs 99-86 at the Rose Garden, where the Trail Blazers hit 50.7 percent of their shots and powered their way to a 44-38 advantage in the paint, despite being outworked 16-6 on the offensive boards. Portland outscored the opposition 28-15 in the closing quarter to seal the win, including a 21-8 run to close out the game.

    Aldridge is rolling after pouring in a career-high 40 points to go along with 11 boards against the Spurs. Matthews chipped in with 21 points - 17 of which came in the second half. Miller rounded out Portland's double-digit scorers with 18 points while also dishing out 9 assists.

    The Nuggets polished off a five-game road swing, which was closed by consecutive losses. During its recent defeat against the New Jersey Nets, Denver all but struggled from the field, shooting better than 50 percent, led by Carmelo Anthony's 37 points and nine rebounds and Chauncey Billups' 19 points. Billups, however, gave the ball up seven times in the game, as the Nuggets committed 16 turnovers as a team.

    New Jersey also had the muscle down low, outrebounding Denver 38-27 on the night, including a 12-3 margin on the offensive glass.

    Now, the Trail Blazers will become reacquainted with the road, as six of their next seven games will be away from home.

    The last time Denver and Portland met up was at the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets led from wire to wire and used a dominating 30-17 third quarter to cruise to a 95-77 win.

    All five Nugget starters reached double figures, led by Billups, who tallied 18 points and nine assists, while Anthony and Nene finished with 17 points apiece.

    On the other side, it was Aldridge who was the high-point man with 18, while also collecting 13 boards and racking up seven blocks. Batum registered 14 points and Rudy Fernandez came off the bench with 11, but the Trail Blazers allowed Denver to shoot better than 45 percent and turned the ball over 18 times.

    Portland has fallen to the Nuggets 14 times in 15 tries in the Mile High City, including five-straight heading into Wednesday night's matchup.

    Aldridge is averaging 21 points, 11.5 boards and four blocks against Denver this season, while Batum contributes 14 points per game and Matthews adds 13.

    Not only that, but Portland has racked up a 25-10 edge in second-chance points and are outscoring Denver 70-52 in the paint.

    The Trail Blazers have remained somewhat consistent from the floor when facing the Nuggets at 40 percent shooting, but have struggled from long range, hitting 13 out of 35 from deep. Denver, on the other hand, have capitalized on trips to the foul line, converting 44-of-54 from the charity stripe, compared to Portland's 18-for-30 mark.

    Sidelined for Portland are Greg Oden, Elliot Williams, Brandon Roy and Marcus Camby, who are all out with knee injuries. Camby will accompany his team, but is not expected to play.

    Mike Barrett and Mike Rice will have the call on KGW-TV, while Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey will team up for the play-by-play on 95.5 FM The Game.

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