McCollum guides Trail Blazers past Nuggets

CJ McCollum had 25 points and seven assists, leading the Portland Trail Blazers to a 112-106 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night (David Zalubowski/AP)

DENVER — The Portland Trail Blazers cleaned up their sloppy play in the fourth quarter to pull away from Denver.

CJ McCollum had 25 points and seven assists, leading the Trail Blazers to a 112-106 victory over the struggling Nuggets on Sunday night.

Gerald Henderson scored 19 points and Al-Farouq Aminu added 14 for Portland, which has won four of five. Allen Crabbe also scored 14.

The Trail Blazers used effective guard play to beat the Nuggets in Portland on Wednesday and it was more of the same Sunday as Denver dropped its sixth straight, two off its season high.

McCollum continued his strong season with his fourth straight game of 25 points or more. He carried Portland through the first three quarters, then Crabbe and Henderson picked it up in the fourth.

"We have no answers for him," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said of McCollum. "We can't guard him. He gets to wherever he wants to go, he shoots the ball and he gets open looks."

The game was bogged down by a slow pace and 59 fouls, 34 by Portland. The teams combined to shoot 80 free throws. Denver was 31 of 48 from the line and missed 10 in the second half.

"It was a sloppy game tonight, a lot of turnovers, slow pace, but we did enough things well in the fourth quarter," McCollum said. "Once we stopped fouling and they stopped calling fouls, we were able to get some stops and win the game."

Crabbe had nine points early in the fourth quarter and the Trail Blazers scored the first seven of the period to take an 87-80 lead.

Denver closed to 91-88, but Henderson's 3-pointer made it 97-88 midway through the period when it appeared the Nuggets started to get fatigued. They lost in overtime at Golden State on Saturday night while the Trail Blazers were waiting in Denver.

"I wasn't myself and I can't make excuses," said Will Barton, who was 2 for 10 from the field after playing 50 minutes against the Warriors. "I have to fight through that and be mentally tough."

The Nuggets got back within five but Portland held them off in the final minutes.

Danilo Gallinari led the Nuggets with 29 points in his second game back from a sprained left ankle.

"We didn't defend," Malone said. "We are just a bad team right now."


Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried started after flying home from Oakland earlier in the day. Faried spent the night in the hospital after he took an elbow to the back of the neck while jostling for a rebound late in Denver's overtime loss at Golden State. He rubbed his neck before lying down at the end of Denver's bench. He was later removed from the court on a stretcher and taken to a hospital as a precaution while the Nuggets flew home.

Faried, who entered Sunday averaging 12.9 points and 9.0 rebounds, finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.


Trail Blazers: G Damian Lillard missed his seventh straight game with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. There was a chance he would play against Denver but he was scratched before tip-off. ... Portland was playing its second game in seven days.

Nuggets: G Emmanuel Mudiay is close to returning and could play later this week. He has missed 12 games with a right ankle sprain sustained against Minnesota on Dec. 11. ... The Nuggets were whistled for four defensive 3-second violations.


Trail Blazers: Host Memphis on Monday.

Nuggets: At Minnesota on Wednesday.