Nuggets Defeat Trail Blazers 114-111 Without Jokic and Murray

Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, NBA News
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

On a night marked by the absence of stars and the presence of rookies, the Denver Nuggets eked out a 114-111 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers during Saturday’s NBA action.

This win further solidified the Nuggets’ dominant post-All-Star Break run, even as they played without their key players, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. The Blazers, making history with a starting lineup of five rookies, showcased their potential despite the loss.

“Any time you can win a game without Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, especially on the road, you’re always going to take that,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I’m proud of our group for just fighting through it. Give them credit, they came out of halftime with a head of steam and got us on our heels. We didn’t play any defense in (third) quarter, but down the stretch we made enough plays to get the win.”

Reggie Jackson and Aaron Gordon stepped up without Jokic and Murray, scoring 23 and 22 points, respectively. Gordon also contributed 12 rebounds, underscoring the Nuggets’ resilience and ability to find ways to win under adverse conditions.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers Updates

For the Trail Blazers, rookie Duop Reath stood out with 24 points, leading a valiant effort by the young squad that saw Scoot Henderson, the No. 3 pick in the previous year’s draft, add 22 points and six assists. Despite their efforts and a late-game rally, the Blazers could not overturn the deficit, marking their sixth consecutive loss.

“When we called timeout, our leaders of the team were taking over the huddle making sure we were locked in,” Jackson said. “We just wanted to get stops, stop offensive rebounds and just make sure we got good shots.”

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers Updates

The game was a rollercoaster, with Denver establishing a 15-point lead at its zenith. However, Portland fought back, leveraging a third-quarter resurgence where they significantly improved their 3-point shooting.

“I think some of the ones we took in the first half weren’t the ones that we wanted,” Henderson said of Portland’s shooting. “I think in the second half, we were really finding that shot, getting into the paint and then kicking out. We were getting paint touches and then spraying 3s.”

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers Updates

The Nuggets’ victory, however, was a testament to their clutch performance in the closing stages, ensuring they held off the Blazers’ spirited comeback.

Denver’s triumph highlights their depth and resilience and sets the stage for their upcoming fixtures as they continue to bolster their playoff positioning.

Meanwhile, despite the loss, the Trail Blazers showcased the bright future of their rookie-laden lineup, hinting at a rebuild that could pay dividends in the seasons to come.

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