Nuggets shut down Blazers



DENVER — Chauncey Billups scored 18 points and the short-handed Denver Nuggets snapped a season-high, three-game losing streak by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 95-77 on Tuesday night.

J.R. Smith and Nene added 17 points apiece for the Nuggets, who were without forward Carmelo Anthony for a fourth consecutive game following the death of his sister. The Nuggets, who next play at Minnesota on Wednesday, said in a statement that Anthony is expected to rejoin the team on Thursday.

Anthony left the team to be with his family after the death last week of Michelle Anthony, 38. Her funeral was held on Monday.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who lost their fifth straight at the Pepsi Center while being held to a season low in scoring by a Denver opponent. The previous low also was by Portland in an 86-83 victory over the Nuggets at the Rose Garden on Nov. 18.

The Nuggets also were missing forward Al Harrington, who was expected to be sidelined for at least two games after dislocating his right thumb in Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia.

Nicolas Batum had 14 points and Rudy Fernandez added 11 for Portland.

The Trail Blazers were without center Marcus Camby, who sprained his right ankle during the third quarter of Monday night’s 96-91 win at Utah.

Up by seven at the half, the Nuggets opened the third quarter with a 19-8 run that carried Denver to a 67-49 lead with 5:28 left in the period. Billups and Nene had a pair of baskets to help fuel the surge and Arron Afflalo, who finished with 15 points, answered a bucket by Andre Miller with a 3-pointer.

By the end of the third, the Nuggets stretched their lead to 78-58. The Nuggets didn’t let up in the final 12 minutes after blowing a fourth-quarter lead in Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia, the first time in 58 straight regular-season games at home that the Nuggets had taken a lead into the fourth quarter and failed to hold it.

The Nuggets led 48-41 at halftime, scoring five points in the final 1.8 seconds of the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Smith and, following the inbounds, a steal and a layup by Afflalo.

NOTES: Afflalo is the only member of the Nuggets to have started all 30 games this season. … Portland split its back-to-back set after winning the front end Monday night at Utah. … The Nuggets had allowed a whopping 108.8 points per game in their previous 10 games, going 3-7 in that span. … Chris Andersen had 12 rebounds for the Nuggets.