Trail Blazers vs Nuggets Wednesday, 02/27/13 AT 07:30PM

Trail Blazers Come Up Short, Fall 111-109

02/27/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    The Trail Blazers (26-31) were not able to make enough plays at the end of the game against the Denver Nuggets (37-22) and eventually lost 111-109. Damian Lillard led the way for the Trail Blazers with 26 points in a close loss.

    "It was our third good game in a row, we've just come up short on two out of three," said Terry Stotts.

    "It's not frustrating, it's draining because we had a chance to win the game," said Lillard

    Ever since Portland's rather disappointing loss to the Phoenix Suns last Tuesday, the Trail Blazers have turned up the intensity. They haven't had bad starts. They haven't needed their dramatic comebacks to make games competitive. They played well against the Lakers last Friday, only to lose, and played well enough to get a solid win over the Celtics on Sunday. Tonight, they were step for step with one of the league's most explosive teams, but at the end, the Nuggets made their plays and the Trail Blazers simply did not.

    "We could have controlled our own destiny but a couple turnovers, didn't execute plays like we could have. And they took advantage of it," said Lillard.

    Before players addressed the media, the locker room was quite subdued. They've suffered tough losses at home this year, but Lillard believes that with everybody aware of the stakes, it made this one sting a little bit more.

    "We know what time it is. That's what comes with it. Guys putting everything out there at this time of the season because we know we've got a chance, and when you come up short on your home floor when you play hard like that, this is the type of feeling you have."

    The Trail Blazers poured their guts out only to be crushed, or, lay-ed up at the end.

    Tonight featured fun basketball. The Trail Blazers and Nuggets treated a national TV audience to a track meet of a game. There were 17 lead changes, 10 times when the score was tied and 220 points scored in regulation. Meyers Leonard scored a career-high 13 points off the bench tonight, on his 21st birthday.

    Nicolas Batum filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, nine assists, six rebounds, five steals and three blocks. JJ Hickson notched his 31st double-double and shot 50 percent for his franchise-record 20th consecutive game. Wesley Matthews hobbled his way to 16 points including a couple of timely threes.

    But none of it mattered as the Nuggets and Trail Blazers decided the game in the final four minutes.

    Lillard and Denver's Ty Lawson, who scored 30 points on the night, continued the battle they had carried for the entire game. Portland gave the Nuggets three extra possessions (two offensive rebounds, one turnover) in the final 2:16.

    Down two with 46.8 seconds left, they went to Aldridge, who finished with 22 points, on the block to tie the game, which he did. Denver went to Lawson almost every possession down but with the score tied with 33.8 second left, they ran a play to get Andre Miller in the post. Getting caught up in the scrum, it was Hickson who switched to Miller, what looked to be a favorable match-up. But Miller hit Hickson with a crafty pump fake that led to a lay-up to put them up by two.

    Aldridge missed a chance to tie the game from nine-feet out with 14.9 second left and the Trail Blazers had to play the free-throw game. Lawson made both tried and appeared to seal the game. However, Lillard answered Lawson right back to make it a one-point game and give Portland another chance. Miller missed the second of two free-throws and Portland was given an opportunity to tie or win the game.

    They went to their money sideline out of bounds play, an action that tries to get Nicolas Batum free in the corner or set up Aldridge on the block. Corey Brewer denied any time of pass for Batum and the ball was thrown to Aldridge, whom Stotts said was the first option, where he had deep post position. But the shot came up short.

    "I liked the matchup," said Terry Stotts about the final play. "I knew they had Chandler on him. I knew he'd get a good look and he did, he just missed it. He got a great look--better than the look he got against Dallas."

    Portland did all the right things for most of the game, but as the Lakers loss showed, you can play well and still lose. "Draining," seems to to be the correct adjective for losses like those. It was only the second time the Trail Blazers have lost a game decided by two points or fewer, they are 8-2 on the season in such situations.

    The Trail Blazers face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday at 7PM. That will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.




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