Blazers, Nuggets both search for first win

Updated: November 1, 2013

( – Two Northwest Division inhabitants looking for a win
collide Friday night in the Rocky Mountains, where the Denver Nuggets will
entertain the Portland Trail Blazers at the Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets kicked off their 2013-14 season with Wednesday’s 90-88 loss
against the Sacramento Kings. The Kings led 88-82 with 3:15 left in the fourth
quarter, but the Nuggets later tied the game at 88 on J.J. Hickson’s driving
lay-up with 1:37 remaining.

Sacramento would then put the game away on Jason Thompson’s put-back dunk with
41.5 seconds remaining, while Ty Lawson missed a lay-up and Randy Foye’s
buzzer-beating 3-point attempt was off the mark.

Lawson had a team-best 20 points and Hickson, Foye and Andre Miller netted 12
points apiece.

“They made the plays at the end of the game,” Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw
said. “We had our opportunities.”

Shaw took over after last year’s Coach of the Year George Karl was fired
following a loss in a first-round series for the eighth time in his nine
seasons as head coach. Denver won a franchise-record 57 games in 2012-13.

Portland has lost 14 in a row dating back to last season and hasn’t tasted
victory since March 22 at Atlanta.

In Wednesday’s 104-91 setback to the Phoenix Suns, reigning Rookie of the Year
Damian Lillard scored 32 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 28. Lillard scored
at least 30 points in five games last season and Nicolas Batum chipped in
seven points and 13 rebounds.

The Blazers shot just 40.7 percent for the game and sank only 8-of-26 from
beyond the arc. They lost their regular season opener for the first time since
the 2008-09 campaign.

“The Phoenix Suns outplayed us,” Portland head coach Terry Stotts admitted.
“They were ready from the get go. They got out and ran.”

Phoenix outscored Portland 52-24 in the paint, so something has to give for
the Blazers’ big men against the Nuggets.

Portland went 1-3 against Denver last season and is winless in the previous
three games between the division foes. The Blazers haven’t had much success at
the Pepsi Center lately, losing their last nine visits there. In fact, the
Blazers have lost 18 of 19 and 24 of the past 26 contests in the Rockies.