LaMarcus Aldridge scored nine of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to help the Portland Trail Blazers hold off Denver 113-98 Friday night, spoiling the home debut of Nuggets coach Brian Shaw and snapping their 23-game regular-season home win streak.
Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews each added 21 as the Blazers opened up a 26-point lead late in the third quarter, only to see the Nuggets slice the deficit to single digits in the fourth. Matthews hit a 3-pointer late to give the Blazers some breathing room and hand the Nuggets a rare loss at Pepsi Center.
The last regular-season loss for Denver was on Jan. 18 against Washington. The team then reeled off 23 straight wins to finish a league-best 38-3 at home. Denver also fell at home to Golden State in a first-round playoff game.
Nate Robinson came off the bench to score 24 points, while Ty Lawson added 21.
The Blazers got back on track after a season-opening loss in Phoenix.
After amassing a big lead, the Blazers watched it steadily evaporate. Robinson made it a 101-94 game with 4:57 remaining. Soon after, Matthews built it back up with a 3-pointer and then Aldridge took over down the stretch, hitting one jumper after another over a steady rotation of Denver defenders.
So far, the Nuggets have been slow to grasp the new system of Shaw, who was hired after George Karl was fired following a season in which the team won a franchise-record 57 wins. Shaw said it might take some time for the Nuggets to fully adopt his style, which features more of a half-court offense rather than an up-tempo pace Lawson and the Nuggets grew accustomed to under Karl.
Batum started off scorching as he scored all 10 of the Blazers' points to start the game. Aldridge got into the act when he hit a jumper midway through the first quarter.
The 6-foot-8 Batum remained red hot the rest of the half, scoring 21 points — including five 3-pointers — to help the Blazers race out to a 64-50 lead at intermission.
The Nuggets have been experimenting at small forward with Wilson Chandler sidelined by a strained left hamstring and Danilo Gallinari out until at least December as he recovers from a torn ACL. Denver has tried Anthony Randolph and even Evan Fournier, who's more of a guard, at the spot.
"Just trying to find the right mix," Shaw explained. "I don't think everybody is settled into when exactly they're going to be coming into the game. It will be that way until we get everybody back in the fold."
NOTES: The Blazers open at home on Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs. Portland has won its last four home openers. ... Shaw said before the game there's no timetable for Chandler's return. ... Nuggets mascot "Rocky" got the wind knocked out of him while performing a pregame stunt. ... Before the game, Denver G Randy Foye grabbed the microphone at midcourt and praised the fans, saying, "I'd like to thank you guys for bringing the energy every night."