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Trail Blazers 100, Nuggets 95

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DENVER -- Guard Damian Lillard tallied 31 points and nine assists, center Robin Lopez had 12 points and 10 rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 100-95 on Tuesday night.

Forward Nicolas Batum had 16 points, including five crucial points down the stretch to help the Blazers extend their win streak to three.

Forward J.J. Hickson had a career-high 25 rebounds and 16 points and guard Randy Foye scored 17 points for Denver, which has dropped three in a row and eight of its last night.

Lillard has stepped up his game in the absence of forward LaMarcus Aldridge. The point guard is averaging 30 points and eight assists in four games without the team's leading scorer.

Lillard was on target Tuesday, leading the Blazers to their third win over the Nuggets this season.

Denver shuffled its lineup in hopes of getting a spark. The Nuggets are mired in their worst stretch since losing 11 of 12 just prior to George Karl taking over in January 2005, so current coach Brian Shaw moved 7-foot-1 center Timofey Mozgov into the starting lineup in place of the 6-9 Hickson.

The move did help both players put up better numbers -- Mozgov had 14 points -- but it didn't result in a win. The Nuggets allowed 100 points for the 18th time in the last 20 games despite a strong defensive fourth quarter.

Portland missed 13 of their first 15 shots to start the fourth, allowing Denver to rally. Twice they got with two points after trailing by 18.

Four Portland free throws made it a 90-86 but forward Kenneth Faried hit two straight shots in the lane to make it 90-88.

Batum hit a 3-pointer with 42.5 seconds left to make it 97-90, and the Nuggets couldn't mount another rally.

Portland was 4-for-21 from the field in the fourth.

Even with Aldridge in street clothes, Denver couldn't stop the Blazers for the first three quarters.

After guard Aaron Brooks' jumper made it a 52-47, Portland scored 11 of the next 13 points to go up by 14. When Denver got within 10, Lillard took over.

Lillard hit a pair of driving, spinning layups to get going, and then he nailed consecutive 3-pointers to put the Nuggets on their heels. When he took a seat late in the third quarter he had scored 12 points in a four-minute span and gave the Blazers a 79-61 lead.

NOTES: Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge (strained left groin) missed his fourth straight game. He leads the team in scoring (23.9 points) and rebounding (11.4) this season. ... Nuggets G Ty Lawson missed his seventh straight game with a fractured rib on his left side. ... Portland F Thomas Robinson became the only player in the NBA this season to have 18 rebounds, seven offensive, coming off the bench. He accomplished the feat Sunday against Minnesota. ... Nuggets F/C J.J. Hickson came off the bench for just the fourth time in 56 games this season. ... The Nuggets will honor the 1993-94 team at halftime of their game March 17. That team became the first No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 seed in NBA playoff history when it rallied to beat Seattle in five games.
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