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The Nuggets find themselves in first place in the West, facing the Blazers

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the Denver Nuggets He survived a difficult early schedule, injuries and cases of COVID-19 to sit atop the Western Conference 30 games into the season.

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One of their signature wins came on the road in Portland on December 8 when Jamal Murray hit a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left to seal the win. His performance announced that Murray had turned a corner in his progress since a year off.

the Trail Blazers They’ll get a chance at redemption when they visit Denver on Friday night to wrap up a six-game road trip.

Murray is expected to play after missing Tuesday’s win over Memphis with a sore knee. Coach Michael Malone suspended him as a precaution and brought rookie Christian Braun into the starting lineup. The Browns led with 13 points and some solid defense over Grizzlies star Ja Morant.

The 105-91 win was significant for the Nuggets because it came against a Memphis team that finished first in the Western Conference. The teams are now tied there at 19-11. It was also Denver’s best defensive performance after a series of formidable performances at that end of the field.

“It’s no secret when we guard we’re a really good team because now you add to the elite offense a strong defence, and that allows you to get out there and run,” Malone said.

The Nuggets scored six batters in double figures despite Michael Porter Jr. being unavailable for the 13th consecutive game due to a left heel strain. Porter said after practice on Thursday that he would play.

Portland is coming off a two-game losing streak to Oklahoma City by a total of five points. The Trail Blazers lost 123-121 on Monday, one night when Damian Lillard became the all-time leading scorer in franchise history, and then 101-98 on Wednesday night.

Getting to the foul streak may be the focus for Portland on Friday night. The Trail Blazers attempted only nine free throws in Wednesday’s loss.

“It doesn’t really happen with us,” coach Chauncey Billups said. “Nine free throws the whole game. We attack all night. I think we weren’t fouled.”

When Portlandia comes to town, it’s a reunion on many levels. Billups grew up in Denver, played for the University of Colorado and had two stints with the Nuggets during his long playing career. It’s a running back for Jusuf Nurkic, who was acquired by Denver on draft night in 2014 and played over two seasons there before being traded to the Trail Blazers.

The decision to trade Nurkic came after a failed trial to play him and Nikola Jokic together. The Nuggets bet on Jokic as their middle man and the bet paid off. He’s won the league’s MVP the past two seasons and averaged 24.7 points, 11 rebounds and a career-best 9.2 assists per game.

Jokic has six triple-doubles, including each in the last two matches and three in the last five. Scored 13 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists against Memphis.

–Field Argument Level

Copyright 2022 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and the Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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