Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum lift Blazers past Nuggets

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Portland, OR, United States (4E Sports) – Wesley Matthews scored 10 of his 20 points in the first quarter, sparking the Portland Trail Blazers’ hot start en route to a 101-93 triumph over the Denver Nuggets Thursday at Rose Garden.

Nicolas Batum added five points while Damian Lillard and JJ Hickson added four points each as the Trail Blazers outscored the Nuggets, 25-14, in the opening frame and never looked back for their 12th win in 24 games.

Batum finished with 22 points with five three pointers to lead three other starters in double digits and Matthews added 20 as the Trail Blazers extended their winning streak to four games despite the absence of forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

JJ Hickson tallied 18 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double, Luke Babbit had 14 points and eight caroms while Lillard finished with 12 points and 10 dimes for the Blazers.

Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer scored 13 points each for the Nuggets, who set a new record for futility after missing 22 shots from beyond the arc, erasing the previous record of 20 misses set by the Trail Blazers

Of those misses, Iguodala had six, Lawson had four misses and Brewer and Jordan Hamilton had three apiece. Miller, Evan Fournier and Danilo Gallinari had two misses each.

Andre Miller had 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as the loss snapped the Nuggets’ three-game winning streak and dropped them to 12-13.

The Blazers raced to a 7-0 lead which they extended to 23-10 after a three-pointer by Matthews with 2:47 left in the first period.

In the second period, Babbitt sank three straight triples to give the Blazers an 18-point cushion, 36-18.

The Nuggets then went on a 14-2 run to trim the gap to 38-32 but the Blazers outscored them, 12-8, in the last four minutes to settle for a 50-40 advantage at the break.

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