Trail Blazers 86, Nuggets 83
Wesley Matthews is helping the injury-depleted Portland Trail Blazers pull out some close victories.
Playing without leading scorer Brandon Roy and a day after learning it was losing Greg Oden for the season to knee surgery, Matthews had his first career double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds and Portland rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Denver Nuggets 86-83 Thursday night.
''Whatever it takes to help the team win. Everybody has to step up, including me,'' said Matthews, who is filling in for Roy. ''I love that we won. I love winning. We fought together as a team and got a big time win tonight.''
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Andre Miller scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half for Portland (8-5), which outscored Denver 17-12 during the fourth quarter.
The Blazers have won two straight since Roy was sidelined with a left knee injury. Roy isn't expected to return to the lineup until Nov. 26 in a game against New Orleans.
Matthews, obtained this summer as a free agent, has been a sensational starter in Roy's absence. He scored 30 points in a 100-99 win at Memphis on Tuesday. Matthews is averaging 25 points and seven rebounds in two Portland starts.
Aldridge was a steady force throughout. The 6-foot-11 forward scored 10 points during the second quarter, and had at least four points in every period.
The Blazers, who outrebounded Denver 48-35 and outshot the Nuggets 85-65, aren't hanging their heads in Roy's absence.
''We've got a good team with good players so we can still win games,'' Portland forward Nicolas Batum said.
The Blazers' defense was also able to neutralize Denver's leading scorer, Carmelo Anthony. He led the Nuggets (6-6) with 18 points, but shot just 5 of 15 from the field and fouled out with 3:35 remaining in the game.
''We tried to attack him,'' Batum said. ''We know that he doesn't want to play defense.''
Matthews and Batum were largely responsible for guarding Anthony during his 35 minutes of action. Anthony ended up fouling out on an offensive foul, bowling over Batum.
''Every time he goes left, I know he's going to spin. Almost every time,'' said Batum, who added, ''I was surprised they called it.''
Marcus Camby led Portland with 14 rebounds.
Anthony was one of five Denver players to score in double figures. Reserve Al Harrington scored 17 points, and Arron Afflalo had 16.
''The intensity and competition was first class, the defense on both ends was first class,'' Denver coach George Karl said. ''We just hurt ourselves by not rebounding and with a few too many basic turnovers.''
Denver had a 45-43 halftime lead following a first half in which both teams had one big run. The Nuggets scored 17 unanswered points during the final 4:11 of the first quarter to take a 28-16 lead into the second quarter.
The Blazers responded by starting the second quarter with a 13-2 spurt, as Matthews hit three consecutive 3-pointers during a 63-second stretch.
The Nuggets maintained a two-point lead after three quarters, but the Blazers started the fourth quarter with a 10-3 run. Portland led by as many as seven points late before holding on.
Afflalo missed two 3-point attempts during the final 10 seconds that would have tied the game.
Notes: During the first half, Portland took 20 more shots than Denver, but the Nuggets made it up at the free throw line with 19 attempts to the Blazers' six. ... Portland plays only one game during the next seven days, Saturday at home against Utah. ... Anthony has 52 rebounds during his past four games. ... Portland is 8-0 this season when holding the opponent to less than 100 points. ... The Blazers were just 11 of 22 from the free throw line.