PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Wesley Matthews had 25 points, including five 3-pointers in the second half, and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Denver Nuggets 111-102 on Thursday night to stay undefeated after three games this season.
Raymond Felton had 23 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:45 left as the Blazers pulled away from the Nuggets, who knotted the game at 98 midway through the fourth quarter.
Portland, which opened the season with wins over Philadelphia and Sacramento, led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but the team was plagued by 25 turnovers.
Ty Lawson had 25 points and eight steals for the Nuggets, who dropped their first game of the season. Denver was coming off a 117-100 victory over Utah on Wednesday night.
The two teams traded point guards on NBA draft night in June. The Blazers got Felton, now a starter, while the Nuggets got Andre Miller, who backs up Lawson.
The Nuggets also have former Blazer Rudy Fernandez on their roster. The Spanish shooter was traded to Dallas on draft night, then sent to Denver in a deal earlier this month.
Nuggets coach George Karl noted Denver’s’ many connections with the Blazers, including his own friendship with Portland coach Nate McMillan.
” Your enemies motivate you,” Karl said. “But your friends really motivate you.”
Felton hugged Karl on the court just before the game started, and Miller was greeted with hearty applause when he came into the game midway through the first quarter.
The Blazers jumped out to a 30-17 lead in the first quarter after Nicolas Batum’s pass to Kurt Thomas for the layup under the basket. The 13-point lead came despite eight turnovers in the opening period.
Denver closed to 44-41 on Danilo Gallinari’s dunk with just over four minutes to go before the break. Al Harrington hit a driving layup to pull the Nuggets even at 53 at halftime.
Lawson pulled the Nuggets in front 57-55 early in the second half, but Matthews made four three pointers and the Blazers went back up 69-63 midway through the third quarter.
The Blazers clung to the lead until former teammate Fernandez made a layup and a 3-pointer to tie it at 84 early in the fourth.
After Lawson hit a 3-pointer to make it 98-all midway through the final period, Jamal Crawford hit a free throw — for his 14th point of the quarter — and Matthews sunk a jumper and a 3-pointer to give Portland an 104-98 lead.
Arron Afflalo made a pair of free throws to narrow it for Denver, but following some sloppy play by both sides Felton hit his 3-pointer to give the Blazers a 107-100 lead with 1:45 left.
Notes: The home team has won the series between the Nuggets and the Blazers for the past eight meetings. The two teams split their four games last season. … The Nuggets were 0 for 11 in 3-point attempts in the first half. … A fan in the stands held a sign in the fourth quarter reading “Denver, where is Tebow when you need him?”
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