PORTLAND, Ore. — Forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored a career-high 44 points and the Portland Trail Blazers needed every bit of it in a 110-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night at the Moda Center.
Aldridge scored the final 10 points for the Trail Blazers (32-11), who trailed much of the game and did not lead for good until he sank two free throws with 43.2 seconds remaining for a 106-105 advantage. He also had 13 rebounds and five assists.
Guard Wesley Matthews added 24 points for the Trail Blazers, who held Denver to 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Forward Wilson Chandler led six Nuggets who scored in double figures with 18 points.
Denver extended an eight-point halftime lead to 78-63 three minutes into the third quarter. Aldridge scored 15 points in the quarter, though, to get the Blazers within 91-86 after three.
Portland used a 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter to seize a 92-91 lead. Denver moved back on top at 97-95, but the Blazers scored four in a row to regain the advantage at 99-97 with 5:39 to play.
Aldridge’s jumper hiked the margin to 102-99 with 3:07 remaining, but Denver went back in front on baskets by Chandler and center Timofey Mozgov.
Guard Randy Foye gave Denver its last lead at 105-104 on a driving layup with 1:01 left. Aldridge went 6 for 6 at the line the rest of the way, the last two with 8.3 seconds to go to wrap up the win.
Guards Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson each scored 13 points as Denver jumped to a 67-59 halftime lead. The Nuggets ruled the half despite 18 points by Matthews and 14 by Aldridge.
The teams battled through the first quarter with Denver on top 30-27. The Nuggets made 12 of 21 shots from the field.
Robinson came off the bench for 13 quick points to push Denver in front 46-37 midway through the second quarter. Chandler banked in a 3-pointer to up the margin to 51-39, but Portland responded with a 9-0 spurt to get within 51-48 with 2:44 left before the half.
NOTES: F Nicolas Batum started for Portland, the only team that has used the same opening lineup the entire season, despite a middle left finger he fractured two weeks ago and reinjured Monday at Houston. The finger bothered Batum in a 105-97 loss on Tuesday at Oklahoma City. … The Trail Blazers avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season. … Denver C J.J. Hickson is making his first appearance in Portland since signing a free-agent contract during the summer. Hickson, Portland’s starting center last season, was 2 for 13 from the field in Portland’s 113-98 win at Denver on Nov. 1. … The Blazers lead the NBA in scoring (109.3 points) and the Nuggets’ last four opponents averaged 117.
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