"It was our third good game in a row, we've just come up short in two out of the three," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "I liked the way we competed in the second half. They're a talented team and they caused a lot of problems for us on the defensive end by what they do, but we stayed with it."
The Blazers went on an 8-0 run capped by Lillard's bank shot to pull within 43-37 midway through the second quarter, but the Nuggets led 58-50 at halftime, paced by Lawson's 16 points.
The Blazers kept threatening in the third quarter, but Denver kept holding them off. After Lillard's 3-pointer got Portland as close a 62-61, Kenneth Faried dunked and made a layup to stem the threat. Nicolas Batum's dunk got the Blazers to 72-70, but Iguodala answered with a 3-pointer.
Rookie Meyers Leonard finally gave Portland lead with a dunk that made it 80-79 with 53 seconds left in the third quarter. For good measure, he dunked again over Miller to extend it.
Leonard, who turned 21 on Wednesday, celebrated by flexing his muscles Incredible Hulk-style. He finished with a career-high 13 points.
Faried tied it at 92 with a dunk, and Lawson's layup gave Denver back the lead at 94-92 with just over six minutes left in the game. Wesley Matthews gave the Blazers back the lead with a 3-pointer, but 19 turnovers hurt Portland.
"This arena is so tough to play in," Lawson said. "They (the Blazers) have so much energy and knock down big 3s. There's a lot of heartbreakers that went down in this building."
NOTES: Lillard was given his trophy for winning the NBA Skills Challenge at All-Star weekend. Because the award is sponsored by Taco Bell, everybody at the Rose Garden was going to get a coupon for a free chalupa on the way out. ... The teams split their two earlier meetings this season, with each team winning at home. ... Matthews has hit at least four 3-pointers in three straight games.