Trail Blazers Press Release

Batum burns Nuggets in Trail Blazers rout

02/04/12
  1. Written by: KevinHudson


    In Saturday night's 117-97 win over the Denver Nuggets, in front of 20,583 at the Rose Garden, Nicolas Batum turned in the most prolific long-range shooting performance in Trail Blazers franchise history, netting nine of his long-range efforts for a career-high 33 points.

    Batum said he was still in such pain from the left-knee bone bruise which sidelined him for the team's previous two games, that shooting the ball was about all he could effectively do on the basketball court. Planting the knee hurt, cutting on it hurt, even just running on it produced a noticeable grimace on the Frenchman's face.

    "All I could do today was shoot from the three-point line, that's it," he said. "I tried to drive. I tried to dunk it and I couldn't even dunk. I missed a wide open layup. All I could do today was stand at the three-point line and shoot."

    So shoot is what he did, to the tune of 11-of-18 from the floor including 9-of-15 from beyond the arc. He shot the long ball better than anyone else in the league has this season and better than anyone has in Portland basketball history.

    But because of the one-sided nature of his contribution to the winning effort, Batum said after the game that despite the career-high 33 points, the game was not the best of his career.

    "I got no rebounds and no assists," Batum said when asked if the performance was the best of his career. "That's not my best game. When I got my 31 points I had seven assists."

    Gerald Wallace, renowned throughout the NBA for his toughness, was impressed by Batum's performance despite the injured knee.

    "He can shoot. I already know that. Trust me...I have to contest those shots in practice every day so I already know what he can do," Wallace said. "I was just impressed him doing it with a banged up knee. That makes it even more impressive to me." 

    Portland (14-10) led the Nuggets nearly wire-to-wire and by as many as 27 points before settling for the final margin as McMillan cleared the bench in the fourth quarter. The Trail Blazers have now won 11 of 12 at home this season, second only to San Antonio (13-1 home record) in the league.

    LaMarcus Aldridge was the only player to shoot a better percentage than Batum from the floor in the game, going 13-for-18 to score 29 points while grabbing nine rebounds. It marked Aldridge's fifth consecutive game with at least 20 points.

    "Most teams try to start off guarding him single coverage. That’s been hard to do, so what they end up doing is they start double teaming and you've got to knock those shots down when teams are double teaming," Portland coach Nate McMillan said of Aldridge. "Tonight, Nic when they started double teaming in the second half was the guy who knocked down some big shots. Crawford had a big shot. Wesley knocked down some shots. We’re much better when the perimeter is keeping the defense honest on LaMarcus."

    Wallace added 17 points for Portland on 8-of-17 shooting, coming just shy of his 50 percent shooting mark in each of the previous 11 home contests. Marcus Camby led in rebounds with a game-high 20, the third time he has eclipsed the 20-rebound mark this season.

    Raymond Felton left the game in the third quarter after getting tangled up with Nuggets forward Nene at mid-court. He left the game favoring his left foot but x-rays were negative and Felton said after the game he hopes to play Monday.

    In his absence, Jamal Crawford led the Trail Blazers with eight assists while Wesley Matthews and Aldridge chipped in five each.

    Denver (15-9) was led by Danilo Gallinari with 20 points while Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson added 16 points each. Koufos completed the contests only double-double by also pulling down 12 rebounds, a new career high.

    "It's a division game and we felt like we played bad in Sacramento. We just needed a win," McMillan said. "With us dropping some games on the road, continue to try and defend home court, especially during this stretch of games. We’ve got some top teams coming in here and another division game coming up, so all games are important. When you drop a game like we did in Sacramento, it’s good to get back in the win column."

    Next for Portland is a date with division-leading Oklahoma City Monday, 7 p.m., at the Rose Garden. The game is available locally on Comcast SportsNet and 750 AM The Game and NBA Audio League Pass will have the play-by-play call.

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