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  • Blazers hold on

    Portland builds 18-point lead, fends off late charge by Nuggets
  • PORTLAND — J.J. Hickson had 18 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 101-93 on Thursday night.
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  • PORTLAND — J.J. Hickson had 18 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 101-93 on Thursday night.
    Nicolas Batum had 22 points to give the Blazers their first four-game winning streak of the season despite missing forward LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sprained left ankle.
    The Nuggets were 0 for 22 from 3-point range, breaking the NBA record of 20 misses without a made 3-pointer set by the Trail Blazers in a game against Toronto last week. Seventy-four of Denver's point came in the paint.
    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.
    Aldridge sprained his left ankle in Portland's 95-94 victory over New Orleans on Sunday. The All-Star twisted the ankle 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.
    He was replaced in the starting lineup by 6-foot-11 Joel Freeland, who was making his first start with the Blazers.
    Portland saw the return of Matthews, who missed two games with a sore hip, then tried to return against the Hornets but played only about four minutes. The injury had put Matthews on the bench in street clothes for the first time in his four-year NBA career. He had played in 250 straight games, second-most among active players behind Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook.
    He seemed fully recovered for the Nuggets, coming out with 10 points in the first quarter alone and he finished 20 points.
    Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer had 13 points each for the Nuggets.
    Babbitt hit three straight 3-pointers that put the Blazers ahead 36-20 in the second quarter. But after a poor first quarter, the Nuggets mounted a rally late in the second, closing to 38-32 on Danilo Gallinari's dunk, but they couldn't get any closer and trailed 50-40 at the half.
    JaVale McGee's dunk pulled the Nuggets to 62-54 but again they struggled to get closer. And they still hadn't hit a shot from outside the paint through three quarters.
    Denver closed to 69-65 on Brewer's fast-break layup. While the Blazers went nearly five minutes without a field goal, Ronnie Price's dunk put the crowd on its feet and extended Portland's lead to 67-75.
    Brewer made a pair of free throws to make it 78-75, but Lillard answered with a 3-pointer for the Blazers.
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