Cincinnati.com
National Basketball Association
Preview
Portland at Denver
When: 9:00 PM ET, Monday, January 22, 2018
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

The Denver Nuggets have fallen out of the top eight in the Western Conference and are in danger of dipping below .500 for the first time since October. The Portland Trail Blazers are trending in the other direction and they will try for their first four-game winning streak of the season when they visit Denver on Monday.

The Blazers capped a 3-0 homestand with Saturday's 117-108 win over Dallas, riding a hot-shooting effort by Damian Lillard. "I gotta play a certain way and perform at a certain level for us to be able to win games," Lillard told the media after hitting his first nine shots en route to 31 points. "That's what my job is. I don't have anything else to say about it." The Nuggets fell for the sixth time in eight games with a 108-100 setback against Phoenix on Friday to begin a five-game homestand. Jamal Murray scored 30 points but Denver could not recover from a 10-point halftime deficit while falling to 11-3 at home against conference foes.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBCS Northwest (Portland), Altitude (Denver)

ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (25-21): Portland shot 52.3 percent against Dallas and it made at least half its field-goal attempts in five of the last nine games. Lillard is averaging 26.8 points in six games since missing two due to a calf injury, and his surge is well-timed as it comes in advance of All-Star nominations. "He's been playing at a high level," teammate Evan Turner told reporters. "An All-Star level. They screwed him the last two years, right? When's the make-up call? They owe him a couple. That's case enough."

ABOUT THE NUGGETS (23-23): Head coach Michael Malone has been critical of his team's play during this lackluster stretch, and that sharp talk continued after his team struggled against a Phoenix squad that ranks last in the NBA in scoring defense (112.2 points per game). "I can't coach effort," Malone told the media. "I can't make you play hard. I can't draw it up on a board. It's something that you have to bring to the table as a professional athlete every night. We didn't have that collectively." Murray's 10-for-17 shooting effort comes on the heels of a three-game stretch in which he was 5-for-23.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Lillard missed the previous meeting, a 102-85 win for the Nuggets in Portland.

2. Denver PF Nikola Jokic grabbed at least 17 rebounds in two of his last three contests.

3. Blazers SG CJ McCollum is averaging 23.4 points in January and has gone consecutive games without a turnover for the first time this season.

PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 106, Nuggets 104
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
Portland 25-21 W3 13-10 12-11 1-0 24-21 3-4 13-13
Denver 23-23 L2 16-6 7-17 1-1 22-22 4-6 14-16
Last Meeting
Portland Denver
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
12/22/17 DEN 102 POR 85 85 34 42.2 102 49 49.4
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Portland C. McCollum 15 38.9 0
Denver N. Jokic 27 57.1 1
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Portland E. Davis 8 4 4
Denver W. Chandler 11 4 7
Assists Player  
Portland S. Napier 5
Denver N. Jokic 6
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Portland D. Lillard 982 43.3 231
Denver J. Murray 729 44.7 119
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Portland J. Nurkic 344 91 253
Denver N. Jokic 405 106 299
Assists Player  
Portland D. Lillard 257
Denver N. Jokic 195
Quickchart Matchup
Portland Portland Off vs  Denver Denver Defense
Portland Off vs Denver - Points For 104.2 Points For
Portland Off vs Denver - Points Against 105.7 Points Against
Portland - FG% 45.3 FG%
Denver - FG% 47.4 FG%
Portland - Reb 44.5 Reb
Denver - Reb 41.0 Reb
Denver Denver Off vs  Portland Portland Defense
Denver Off vs Portland - Points For 106.0 Points For
Denver Off vs Portland - Points Against 103.1 Points Against
Denver - FG% 45.9 FG%
Portland - FG% 45.0 FG%
Denver - Reb 45.2 Reb
Portland - Reb 42.5 Reb