CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic heat up as Blazers turn back Nuggets to tighten grip on West 8th seed
Jusuf Nurkic exploded for a career-high 33 points against his former team. AP

CJ McCollum dropped 39 points while Jusuf Nurkic exploded for a career-high 33 to go with 16 rebounds against his former team as the Portland Trail Blazers turned back the Denver Nuggets, 122-113, on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time) at the Moda Center.

Nurkic started out strong against his former team with 21 first-half points as Portland rallied from an early deficit to take a slim 66-64 lead at the half. Then CJ McCollum, who also scored 20 before halftime, heated up after the break as the Blazers turned up the defense to limit the Nuggets to 34.8 percent shooting in the third, with Portland extending the gap to 10 entering the fourth period.

Denver tried to mount a comeback, getting as close as six twice in the period, but Portland had an answer to every Nuggets rally as the Blazers (36-38)held on to their fourth straight win and take a one game lead for the 8th seed in the Western Conference.

Damian Lillard also added 19 points, hitting four triples, while Al Farouq Aminu fired 15 markers off the bench to help Portland win the season series, 3-1, against Denver.

Six players scored in double figures for Denver (35-39) in a losing effort, led by Jameer Nelson with 23 points. Gary Harris scored 19, while Nikola Jokic and Wilson Chandler had 17 apiece for the Nuggets.

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