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Staff report: Hot-shooting Denver wins big in the Mile High City; Lillard manages only 21 points

The Trail Blazers came in the hot team, but it was all Denver Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.

Nikola Jokic collected 29 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and three blocked shots to lead Denver (35-16) past Portland 127-99, handing the Blazers their most one-sided loss of the season.

Denver shot .511 from the field, knocked down 17 of 34 shots from 3-point range and won the rebound battle 50-36. The Nuggets have prevailed in all three meetings with Portland this season.

The Blazers (23-28) had won five of their previous six games, but they didn't have it Tuesday night. They shot only .396 from the field and were 9 for 31 on 3-point attempts.

Damian Lillard topped Portland with 21 points and nine assists, but made only 8 of 23 shots from the field, including 1 of 6 from the 3-point line. Lillard entered the night averaging 48.8 points in his last six outings.

Jokic had 15 points and nine rebounds in the first quarter to send Denver to a 37-28 lead.

The difference was 64-38 at halftime, with Jokic totalling 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Lillard had 13 points and was only 5 for 16 from the field, including 0 for 3 from 3-point range. The Nuggets held a 31-17 advantage on the boards. Portland shot .304 in the half, including 2 for 16 on 3-point attempts.

Lillard didn't make a 3 until three minutes into the third quarter. Shortly thereafter, Denver hiked its lead to 79-47. The difference was 100-74 after three quarters. The Blazers got no closer than 24 points the rest of the way.

It was a rough night in other ways for the Blazers, who were whistled for a pair of flagrant fouls — one each on CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony — made mostly out of frustration. To add injury to insult, rookie forward Nassir Little went down to a leg injury in the final minute.

Ninth place in the NBA Western Conference will be on the line Thursday when the Blazers play host to San Antonio (22-28), 7 p.m. at Moda Center.


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