PORTLAND, Ore. — Anfernee Simons had 29 points, including seven 3-pointers, and the Portland Trail Blazers won their fourth straight game to start the season with a 135-110 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.
Simons had 22 points and six 3s in the third quarter alone as Portland became the NBA’s only 4-0 team. Damian Lillard finished with 31 points and eight assists for the Blazers, who took over in the second half after a sluggish start.
“Explosive and fun,” Lillard said of Simons’ third-quarter outburst. “Just being able to see it – I was watching the crowd. It was crazy, like he was blowing the roof off this place.
The last time Portland opened 4-0 was in 1999. The Blazers are the only undefeated team in the Western Conference.
Aaron Gordon scored 26 for the Nuggets (2-2). Nikola Jokic, who had back-to-back triple-doubles in Denver’s two previous games, had foul trouble and finished with nine points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
“We were embarrassing tonight,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “It was a poor effort after that first quarter. We didn’t defend at all. We can’t keep one-on-one at all right now.
The Nuggets, with their biggest roster, trailed 11 early. Gordon’s dunk gave Denver a 53-40 advantage.
Portland rallied with Lillard’s 3-pointer and Jusuf Nurkic’s layup and free throw to close the gap to 57-51 at the end of the first half, but Denver led 61-55 at the end of the first half. pause.
Simons tied it at 64 early in the second half and his 3-pointer put the Blazers up 79-70. During a time out, Simons was mobbed by his teammates in celebration. Portland outscored the Nuggets 44-25 in the third quarter.
“You can’t let a guy get into that space in the first place, but some of those shots he was doing you just have to – the old saying goes, you know – shake his hand, pat him on the back and say goodbye” , Gordon said.
Simons said it occurred to him that he was on a roll on his fourth 3. He missed just one perimeter shot in the quarter.
“I pulled one off the top of the key when I fell, that’s when I was like, I guess it’s one of those nights,” Simons said. “I shot that one blind.”
Portland had a 99-86 lead going into the final period. Josh Hart’s point extended it to 107-88.
Nurkic finished with 13 points and 12 assists.
“Our understanding of what we’re trying to do is only getting better,” Lillard said. “I think the best thing about it is that it feels durable.”
Lillard was selected NBA Western Conference Player of the Week for the week ending Sunday. He averaged 34 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the Blazers’ first three games of the season. He made 12 3-pointers during that span.
Blazers coach Chauncey Billups says Hart is such a high-level competitor that he sometimes even has to sit him down in practice because “he doesn’t have a switch.” Hart finished with six points and 11 rebounds against the Nuggets.
Nuggets: Denver won last season’s series against the Blazers 3-1. … Jokic was called for his fourth foul with 6:55 left in the third quarter. … Jokic tied Wilt Chamberlin for sixth on the career list with 78 triple-doubles. … Michael Porter Jr. finished with 18 points.
Trail Blazers: Played without JA Winslow due to a sprained right ankle. Billups indicated before the game that it did not appear to be a long-term injury. “I don’t think so. I hope not,” he said.
Nuggets: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
Trail Blazers: Host the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
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