Nuggets-Trail Blazers Preview

The Portland Trail Blazers were able to win without Brandon Roy

earlier in the week, but could have trouble containing the Denver

Nuggets’ high-powered offense without their shut-down defender.

Portland will be without its leading scorer again when it looks

for a third straight home win Thursday night against the Nuggets,

losers of three in a row on the road.

Denver has lost four of its last six visits to Portland,

managing only 93.7 points in those games. However, with Roy

expected to be on the sidelines after undergoing an MRI on his

chronically sore left knee Wednesday, things could be different

this time around.

Roy, who is averaging 18.1 points per game and ranks second on

the team in steals (1.5), was held out of the Trail Blazers’ 100-99

win in Memphis on Tuesday night.

The three-time All Star was replaced in the starting lineup by

Wesley Matthews, who filled in quite nicely, scoring a career-high

30 points as Portland improved to 4-4 on the road.

“We all had to step up,” Matthews, who went 5-of-10 from 3-point

range, told the team’s official website. “I’m part of a team so I’m

just fulfilling my duty as a teammate to step up like everyone else

did tonight.

“This was a huge game especially going into these next two

(games) that we have at home with Denver and Utah. Both of those

teams are playing well. We needed this win, and we didn’t want to

come off this road trip winless.”

The Trail Blazers (7-5) will likely need another big game out of

Matthews if they hope to keep up with one of the league’s

highest-scoring teams.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 23 points against the Grizzlies – his

second highest scoring output of the season. Aldridge has struggled

against the Nuggets at home, though, averaging 10.9 points in eight

games.

While Denver (6-5) has recently had trouble scoring in Portland,

its leading scorer has thrived.

Carmelo Anthony, averaging 24.7 points in his eight-year career,

has put up 30.0 in Portland since the 2006-07 season, including 73

in his last two visits.

Anthony led Denver to a 120-118 win over visiting New York on

Tuesday night, scoring 26 and pulling down nine rebounds, giving

him 44 boards in his last three games.

“Melo has been great,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “He’s

been the most professional I’ve ever seen him, more serious than

I’ve ever seen him, and the guy’s playing at an All-Star

level.”

Anthony continues to be hounded by the media about the

possibility of leaving Denver after failing to sign a three-year,

$65 million extension, but the Nuggets’ franchise player is solely

focused on basketball for the time being.

“I’m good. I sleep good at night. I’m with my family. I sleep

good at night,” he said. “It ain’t about the money.”

Denver is among the league’s most potent offensive teams despite

decreased production from Chauncey Billups. The Nuggets point guard

is averaging 14.4 points after scoring 19.5 last season as he

continues to struggle with his shot.

Billups is connecting on 34.2 percent of his field-goal

attempts, the second-lowest mark of his career. He could, however,

bounce back in this game, as he is averaging 17.3 points on

17-of-34 shooting in his last three meetings with Portland.