PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Trail Blazers weren't going to try anything out of the ordinary against the Nuggets, especially with injured All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge watching from the bench in street clothes.
The idea, explained forward J.J. Hickson, was for everyone to do "just a little bit more."
Everyone did, and Portland beat the Nuggets 101-93 on Thursday night for the Blazers' first four-game winning streak of the season. Nicolas Batum had 22 points and Hickson had 18 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth-straight double-double.
It was an odd loss for the Nuggets, who missed 22 3-pointers, breaking the NBA record for most attempts without a make — a mark that was set a week ago when the Blazers went 0 for 20 from 3-point range in a victory over Toronto.
Denver scored 74 points from inside the paint, and the rest were free throws except for Ty Lawson's 20-foot pull-up jumper with 38 seconds left in the game.
"The rhythm of the game was not in our favor, and our guys seemed to be worn out a little bit," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "If you make two 3s it's a different basketball game — a totally different game. It's not time to panic or anything. We just didn't have enough shooters out there."
The Blazers led by as many as 18 in the first half and while the Nuggets were able to close the gap, they were never able to pull even.
Andre Miller's fade-away for Denver narrowed Portland's lead to 84-81 with 4:06 left. Batum made a trio of free throws before Miller added a layup to make it 87-83. But Luke Babbitt hit a 3-pointer with 2:31 left to give the Blazers back a 92-83 lead.
Wesley Matthews all but sealed it when his 3-pointer a short time later put the Blazers ahead 97-87 with 1:31 left.
"We were able to get the win," Matthews said. "We want to correct how many points we gave up in the paint, but that's for another day. Tonight we're going to enjoy this win."
Aldridge sprained his left ankle in Portland's 95-94 victory over New Orleans on Sunday. The injury occurred in the final minute of the game, which was won on rookie Damian Lillard's 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left.
Aldridge, who is averaging 21 points and eight rebounds a game, was off the crutches on Thursday night but he was wearing a boot and walking with a limp.