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Mar 24, 2024 1:12 am

Short-handed Nuggets top Blazers’ all-rookie lineup

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Reggie Jackson scored 23 points and Aaron Gordon registered 22 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots to help the short-handed Denver Nuggets post a 114-111 victory over the host Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

Christian Braun had 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals off the bench for the Nuggets, who played without stars Nikola Jokic (back, hip) and Jamal Murray (ankle) while completing a four-game season sweep of the Trail Blazers.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points and Michael Porter Jr. had 12 points and nine rebounds for Denver, which is six percentage points behind the Oklahoma City Thunder in the battle for first place in the Western Conference. DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and eight rebounds and Collin Gillespie also had 11 points as the Nuggets won for the 14th time in the past 16 games.

Duop Reath scored 24 points, Scoot Henderson added 22 points, and Toumani Camara had 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Portland, which lost its sixth straight game and 10th in its past 12. Jabari Walker had 15 points and nine rebounds, Dalano Banton scored 14 points and Kris Murray had 11.

Ravaged by injuries, the Trail Blazers started five rookies — Reath, Henderson, Camara, Murray and Rayan Rupert.

According to the club, it is just the second time an NBA team has featured an all-rookie starting lineup since starters began being tracked on box scores in the 1970-71 season.

The last team with five rookies in the starting lineup was the Golden State Warriors on April 26, 2012, against the San Antonio Spurs. Klay Thompson was one of the Golden State starters.

Portland played without Deandre Ayton (elbow), Jerami Grant (hamstring) and Anfernee Simons (knee) among others.

Denver led by 12 with less than three minutes left before the Trail Blazers made a late dash. A trey by Reath and layups by Banton and Camara cut Portland’s deficit to 109-105 with 50.5 seconds left.

Henderson’s layup pulled the Trail Blazers within 113-111 with 3.5 seconds left before Jackson split two free throws with 1.9 seconds to play as Denver held on.

Earlier, The Trail Blazers battled back from a 15-point deficit to hold a 91-89 lead on Henderson’s 3-pointer with 9:01 left in the game.

Denver answered with a 9-0 burst and Porter scored the final five as the Nuggets took a seven-point lead with 7:20 remaining.

Denver kept pulling away as Braun and Gordon recorded consecutive dunks to push the lead to 107-95 with 2:59 left.

Braun scored 12 first-half points as the Nuggets led 57-47 at the break. Reath had 13 points in the half for Portland.

–Field Level Media

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