PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—The Portland Trail Blazers were expected to have another rebuilding year after losing their future franchise player to injury before the season even started. Instead, they have won 10 straight—the longest winning streak in the NBA this season.
Martell Webster scored 19 points while Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge each added 18 in Portland’s 99-96 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. It was the second win over the Nuggets in less than a week.
“Who would have thought Portland would do that?” Roy mused about the streak. “You’d think it would be Dallas or Phoenix.”
Portland has not won as many consecutive games since the Blazers were victorious in 12 straight in the 2001-02 season.
“It’s hard to say they’re creeping up on teams. They are a hot team and they are playing well right now,” said Denver’s Carmelo Anthony. “Everything they throw up is going in and they are playing together right now.”
Anthony and Allen Iverson each had 34 points for the Nuggets. Anthony added 12 rebounds.
Portland, the youngest team in the NBA, started the streak with a win Dec. 3 at Memphis, after going 5-12 to start the season. Seven of the 10 wins have come at home, where the Blazers are 12-3.
“We’re a young team but we’re growing up. We’re maturing a lot during this win streak,” Roy said. “If you watched tonight it wasn’t just a young team that’s hot. We had to work for this and face adversity, but we came through.”
With the game tied at 94, James Jones made the second of two free throws with 36.2 seconds left.
After Roy blocked Anthony’s try, Travis Outlaw made a pair of free throws to give the Blazers a 97-94 lead. Iverson’s driving layup with 6.9 seconds left narrowed the deficit to one.
Denver was playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Nuggets beat Houston in double overtime on a last-second jumper by Anthony Carter.
The Nuggets were without starting forward Kenyon Martin. He left in the second half against the Rockets with a leg injury and did not return.
Denver center Marcus Camby did not dress because of a mid-back bruise he suffered against Houston. The Nuggets started Jelani McCoy at center. McCoy, signed on Friday, played in five games with the Nuggets this season before he was waived Wednesday.
Jack’s long 3-pointer put the Blazers up 30-22 at the close of the first quarter.
Aldridge gave Portland its biggest lead on a tip shot that made it 40-31. But the Nuggets kept up and Iverson, who had played 51 minutes the night before, evened it a 50 with a fade-away jumper.
His 10-foot jumper with 2.8 seconds left in the half gave the Nuggets a 52-50 lead. Iverson had 21 first-half points.
The Nuggets extended the lead in the third quarter when Kleiza’s 3-pointer made it 60-53.
Denver led by as many as eight points, but the Blazers came back with a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter. Steve Blake’s 3-pointer narrowed it to 76-74, before Outlaw’s jumper tied it.
Outlaw eventually gave the Blazers back the lead with a 10-foot jumper that made it 80-78. Jones followed with a 3-pointer and added a 20-foot jumper to put Portland up 85-78.
“They are very confident and I think they’ve matured very quickly. They have very good composure for close game situations,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “They also have the ability to explode on you with the 3-ball. When you’ve got Webster and Jones, they’re always able to hit three to four threes on you in any situation.”
Roy, last season’s Rookie of the Year, has led the Blazers with an average of 23.6 points during the streak, and has won consecutive Western Conference player of the week honors.
Greg Oden, a 7-footer out of Ohio State, had microfracture surgery on his right knee in September, before his rookie season started.
McCoy averaged three minutes in his five games with the Nuggets before he was waived. … Roy appeared to be having trouble with his right hand, and at one point a trainer examined it. … The Blazers defeated the Nuggets 116-105 in Denver on Dec. 16. … The Blazers next host the Seattle SuperSonics on Christmas Day. … Denver’s bench was outscored by the Blazers’ bench 39-10. … Over the course of the streak, Outlaw has 14 blocks.