ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com NBA & Trail Blazers Insider
!function(d,s,id)varjs,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)0;if(!d.getElementById(id))js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="platform.twitter.comwidgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Portland,Ore. Wesley Matthew's hot shooting and LaMarcus Aldridge'ssteadiness helped the Portland Trail Blazers get a win in theirpreseason home opener by defeating their division rival DenverNuggets 97-80.
With this win, the Trail Blazers broke a two-game preseason losing streak.
WesleyMatthews led all scorers with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting andLaMarcus Aldridge added 14 points and 4 rebounds.
"I think we're all still trying to find our comfort level on the offensive end and tonight everything felt good," Matthews said. "We just have to stay the course and keeping working to improve."
The offensive end wasn't the only area where the Trail Blazers did their damage at, they put on a clinic on the defensive end forcing 22 turnovers and converting that into 26 points.
"That was a good defensive effort," Terry Stotts said. "That was our priority coming into the game, to improve defensively."
CobyKarl came off the bench and ignited a spark with his heady play andgreat decision making. He finished the game with 11 points and 4assist in 20 minutes of play.
Theplay of the day came towards the end of the first quarter: Karlpenetrated to the hole and threw up a high floating lob to MeyersLeonard and he grabbed it with one hand and flushed it downright before time expired.
NolanSmith got the start in place of Damian Lillard (bruised left foot)and he had his moments. Overall, he got the team in their offensequickly and efficiently. He ended the game with seven points and eight assist.
"I was a little hesitant at the beginning of the game and I had to pick it up," Smith said. "I settled down when I got back in there and I felt more comfortable because I was being aggressive."
Victor Claver made an extended appearance tonight finishing with 13 points on 4-for-8 from the field.
The Trail Blazers are now 12-1 all-time versus the Nuggetsin preseason play and they are now up on the series at home 7-1.Tonight's loss was the Nuggets first defeat this preseason.
The Trail Blazers next opponent is the Golden State Warriors this Friday night at the Rose Garden.