The Denver Nuggets got out of the gates at a furious pace. They were up 14-3 just four minutes into the game while shooting 75 percent from the floor. Coming out of a Portland Trail Blazers timeout, Portland started climbing back into the game, but Denver was keeping them at bay. When Nikola Jokic eventually made his trip to the bench, the Nuggets’ lead was five, but the bench was able to extend the lead to eight with a late laser from Bones Hyland to DeAndre Jordan for an easy dunk at the rim.

The lead stretched to as many as 10 points early in the second quarter, and the Denver offense was still firing away from all over the floor, as they were 6-of-12 from 3-point range early on. Physical play from both sides was resulting in a lot of chippiness and bumps and bruises, but that wasn’t stopping anyone from scoring. A little over halfway through the quarter, the two sides were on pace for more than 60 points combined. Following a Portland turnover, quick thinking from Jokic and Kentavious Cauldwell-Pope resulted in a quick bucket to put Denver up by 13 for their largest lead of the game so far. Following a third foul by Jokic, the Nuggets slowly faded down the stretch of the first half. They led by 10 when he exited the game, and that lead was down to six at the half.

The two sides came out of the half trading blows, but the main thing to track was the rate that Damian Lillard was drawing fouls. Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. had each been called for three fouls, and the team had yet to find an answer to him. Portland eventually tied the game up a little over two minutes into the quarter which finally wiped away a lead that was at one point 13. Things very quickly went from bad to worse. They had been outscored 24-9 in less than six minutes of action, and they were trailing by nine while Jokic and Porter were seated on the bench with their fourth fouls that they drew on back-to-back possessions. Anfernee Simons was single-handedly taking the game over for Portland with 22 points in the third quarter on 8-of-8 shooting and 6-of-6 from 3-point range. Denver was in the hole by 13 points with just under 3:30 remaining in the period. Denver got some back late in the quarter, but immediately gave the points back and trailed by 13 heading into the fourth.

Denver started the fourth where they left off in the third with the defense struggling to get stops while Jokic picked up his fifth foul of the night on a questionable offensive foul call. Denver was trailing by 15 with a little over seven minutes remaining as they were hoping to claw their way back, but they weren’t getting that done quickly. Over the next few minutes, Denver gradually faded, and the lead was up to 22 with just over four minutes remaining when it appeared that that would be all she wrote for the Nuggets. Both sides had pulled their starters, and the goal was just to run out the clock at this point. However, the Blazers kept scoring, and they were up to 130 points with just under three minutes left. Denver would ultimately fall to the Blazers 135-110.

Stat Leaders

Points: Aaron Gordon – 26

Assists: Nikola Jokic – 9

Rebounds: Jokic – 9

Player of the Game: Aaron Gordon – 26 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 12-of-16 field goal, 0-of-2 3-point, 2-of-2 free throw