The Portland Trailblazers blew out the Denver Nuggets 132-116 in one of the least entertaining games to watch if you are a Nuggets fan. Portland was very hot offensively and lit it up from beyond the arc which is all too familiar for Denver. Nikola Jokic continued to do MVP things as he put up 21 points and sat the whole second half. Along with the MVP, Howard, Millsap, and Green were bright spots for Denver tonight. Denver is locked into the 3rd spot in the West with the Clippers losing to OKC.

1st Quarter

  • Denver was very quiet offensively early. Every shot seemed to be off by a mile. Portland 14-3 start.
  • Defense isn’t physical at all offering easy baskets, but that is expected and possibly encouraged in a game like this. Number one priority is to get out of this game healthy
  • Jokic appeared to be the only Nugget coming ready to play offensively. Twelve points in the first quarter
  • So many open three-point looks. Nine made threes for Portland in the first.
  • Nuggets shooting looked very rusty. 37% shooting from the field and 22% from beyond the arc.
  • Score: 43-22 Portland

2nd Quarter

  • Nuggets backup bigs looked well considering the circumstances. Green and Millsap gave Denver productive minutes
  • Inadequate offensive movement and lack of defensive rebounding. Ended up trailing 13 in the rebounding category at the end of the first half
  • It seemed like the referees understood the gravity of this game. They let Portland be physical on defense without any foul calls, meanwhile not reciprocating the same calls for Denver.
  • Michael Porter Jr. heated up in the second quarter. Nugget broadcasters noted that since the All-Star break, he has the 2nd highest plus/minus in the league.
  • Offense started to click a bit more. More movement and open cutters, but could not stop Portland on the other end.
  • Score: 72-55 Portland

3rd Quarter

  • Nugget guards lacked energy early in the quarter. Howard and Rivers’ jumpers were not falling, and Morris seemed to still be searching for his rhythm
  • CJ McCollum looked dangerous. He was 5-7 from three-point land and was getting to his spots effortlessly
  • Portland was hitting on all cylinders offensively. Their guards were very productive from the field and beyond the arc. 17 made threes while shooting 60% from the field for the Trailblazers
  • Guard heavy lineup for Denver most of the quarter. Consisted of Howard, Morris, Rivers, Millsap, and Green
  • Markus Howard heated up late later in the quarter. He was very confident, aggressive, and brought the highest energy of the team. Ended the quarter with 13 points with four made threes
  • Score: 106-84 Portland

4th Quarter

  • Shaq Harrison still trying to find his rhythm offensively after a good showing in his initial appearances as a Nugget. He is an aggressive rim attacker but he missed a couple of layups in this game
  • The guard pair of McCollum and Lillard were snipers tonights. They both hit five threes and shot over 52% from the field
  • Most Portland starters exited the game at the five-minute mark of the fourth. If you were watching at this point you are a very dedicated Nugget fan and we appreciate you.
  • Bol Bol’s crazy shot selection might have been the most entertaining part of the game. He will throw it up from anywhere no matter the defensive pressure.

Score: 132-116 Portland

Tonight’s Takeaways

Denver got out of the game healthy. This was the number one priority. Home court advantage was already secured, so winning this game was not a necessity. I wouldn’t say there was an incredible lack of effort defensively, but you could tell they were very aware of the situation so they avoided physical defense. Monte Morris limped for a little trying to come off a Portland screen, but it didn’t seem anything more serious than a bruise.

Nikola Jokic just won’t stop. He appeared to be the only person locked in offensively tonight. Michael Malone wisely held him out of the second half, but he was easily the best player on the court when he did play. He led all scores with 21 points in the first half, and without his scoring Denver might have been down 40 at that point.

Markus Howard is a player. He didn’t have his most efficient game, but you can tell he belongs in the NBA. Facing a fantastic backcourt he was getting to his spots often and hit a couple of very impressive three-pointers. In a game where most of the lineup appeared apathetic, Howard brought high energy and was their only spark in the 3rd quarter.

My Player of the Game: CJ McCollum – 24 points, 5 assists on 5-9 from three, and 53% shooting from the field