PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge's 44-point outburst against the Denver Nuggets came the same day the All-Star starters were announced.
Aldridge wasn't on the list. So naturally there were questions whether his new career-high was perhaps an answer to a perceived snub.
"It was nothing about that," the Trail Blazers' forward said. "We lost two games and we needed this win."
Aldridge also had 13 rebounds in Portland's 110-105 come-from-behind victory over the Nuggets on Thursday night. Wesley Matthews added 24 points for the Blazers, who snapped a two-game losing streak coming off a 2-2 road trip. The Blazers have not lost three straight this season.
Aldridge scored the team's final 15 points: After missing three of four free throws, he settled down to make eight straight to close out the game.
It was his third career game with 40 or more points.
"It goes without saying, LaMarcus just keeps impressing everybody with what he's doing," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said, ticking off the contributions: "He was aggressive to the basket, he made his jump shots, he made his free throws, he rebounded, he came up big when we needed him, he made passes out of the double teams when they doubled, he got blocked shots. He was fantastic."
The Blazers trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, but chipped away at Denver's lead to pull to 91-90 on Matthews' turnaround fadeaway before taking the lead on his 15-foot jumper.
The teams wrestled for control, but Aldridge's jumper put Portland up a 102-99 with 3:08 left.
Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov made consecutive baskets to regain the lead for Denver, and it was back-and-forth until Aldridge made four consecutive free throws to shouts of "M-V-P," from the Portland crowd, giving the Blazers a 108-105 lead.
Chandler missed a jumper with 8 seconds left and Aldridge made more free throws for the final margin.
Chandler finished with 18 points for Denver, which has lost three straight and four of their last five games after a five-game winning streak.
"LaMarcus Aldridge, the buckets that he made, I can live with that," said Denver coach Brian Shaw. "But some of the fouls that we committed to send him to the line without him having to really work for it, I thought is what hurt us, especially in the fourth quarter."