Nene's double-double leads Nuggets past Blazers
DENVER – Nene had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups scored 20 points each and the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 109-90 on Wednesday night.
Wesley Matthews had 19 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 18 points and nine rebounds for Portland.
The injury-riddled Blazers suffered another blow when Matthews sprained his right ankle late in the second quarter. Matthews, who scored 17 points in his first 18 minutes, rolled his ankle as he planted his right foot on a drive to the bucket with just over two minutes remaining in the half. He walked to the locker room with assistance.
Matthews started the second half but left after 19 seconds and one defensive possession. He returned to start the fourth quarter but scored just two points.
It's another in a rash of injuries to hit Portland, which has lost 164 man games to injury this season. Five players have had knee surgery this year, including Greg Oden, Marcus Camby, Brandon Roy and rookie Eliot Williams. Williams and Oden are out for the season, while Roy and Camby are expected back after the All-Star break.
In addition, center Joel Pryzbilla missed the first 18 games of the season with a right knee injury and the stomach flu.
Portland stayed in the game despite Matthews' limited play. The Blazers led 68-67 late in the third when Billups hit two 3-pointers to give Denver a 73-70 lead.
J.R. Smith hit two free throws, Rudy Fernandez missed a 3-pointer at the other end and Kenyon Martin's dunk just beat the buzzer to put the Nuggets ahead 77-70 heading into the fourth.
Two free throws by Aldridge made it 81-74, but Smith hit a 3-pointer and Arron Afflalo made a short jumper to give Denver a 12-point lead.
Andre Miller cut it to nine with a free throw and Portland had a chance to slice deeper into the lead but a turnover led to a Smith dunk and the Nuggets were never seriously threatened.
The Trail Blazers, coming off a win Tuesday night against San Antonio, led by one at halftime. Portland shot just 40.5 percent before the break but went 7 for 9 from 3-point range to get the lead. Miller's floater in the lane just before the halftime buzzer gave them the lead.
The Nuggets stayed close by outrebounding the Blazers 23-14 and shooting 50 percent from the field to that point.
Notes: Al Harrington returned from a strained left foot, which meant the Nuggets had their full team, including coach, available for the entire game for the first time in more than a year. ... Including last season, the Trail Blazers' last four games in Denver have come on the second night of back-to-back games.