Thursday, March 5, 2009
Up, Down And Out In The Mile High
On the second night of a back to back in the Mile High City, the Portland Trail Blazers dug themselves a hole in the first half, climbed out in the third quarter, then dug an even deeper hole in the fourth on the way to a 106-90 loss to the Denver Nuggets Thursday night.
“We just looked like we had heavy legs from the start to finish,” said Nate McMillan. “They tipped off early and basically what they were doing was a lot of one-on-one, a lot of movement. We were able to score early, but we just seemed to be a step slow I thought all night long. It was a back-to-back and that could play a roll.”
Brandon Roy led the Trail Blazers with 22 points and four assists. Thursday’s game was the second straight night in which Roy played more than 40 minutes.
“They just had more energy than we did,” said Roy. “We kind of gave into fatigue a little bit and Carmelo had a big night and we have to do a better job of slowing him down.”
Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 38 points in his return from a one-game suspension for refusing to come out of a game last weekend,
“We knew there would be a lot of emotions over there and Carmelo coming back and the spotlight being on him,” said McMillan. “He came out aggressive scoring just in a number of ways mainly one-on-one raising up and shooting over the top.”
A victory in Denver, a notoriously difficult place for the Trail Blazers, seemed to be a long shot from the beginning. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back hundreds of miles away from home in the high altitude is tough enough, but it’s even tougher when playing at less than full strength as starters Joel Przybilla and LaMarcus Aldridge were battling flu-like symptoms prior to Thursday’s game.
“Pre-game I wasn’t doing too well,” said Aldridge. “I went to the doctor and didn’t know if I was going to play, but I felt good out there so I played. As the game went on I felt better.”
Aldridge finished the night with 19 points and four rebounds. Przybilla added a game high 12 rebounds to go along with five points.
Travis Outlaw contributed 15 points and six rebounds, and Rudy Fernandez pitched in 11 points to round out the list of Trail Blazers scoring in double figures.
The loss puts Portland into a dead heat with the Utah Jazz for second place in the Northwest Division. And in an ironic twist, the Trail Blazers find themselves most likely rooting for the team they just lost to, as the Nuggets play the Jazz, winners of their last nine, Friday night in Utah.
The Trail Blazers have a night off before meeting the Timberwolves for the fourth and final time Saturday at the Rose Garden.
“We have to put this behind us; we have a big game Saturday,” said Roy. “I am disappointed but I don’t think we are as frustrated as people think. We are going out and trying. We are trying to build not only for now, but for next season. We are pretty positive in here.”