Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 23rd 2024

The Denver Nuggets struggled prior to the All-Star break by finishing play with their second three-game skid of the season.

The Nuggets got back on track in their return to action and will look to make it two straight wins when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

Denver turned the page on its troubles with an impressive 130-110 victory over the visiting Washington Wizards on Thursday. The Nuggets never trailed and led by as many as 28 points while knocking down 55.4 percent of their shots from the field.

Nikola Jokic had 21 points on 10-of-10 shooting and added 19 rebounds and 15 assists for his 16th triple-double of this season and 121st of his career. Jokic also joined LeBron James and Russell Westbrook as the only players to post a triple-double against every opponent.

Jokic, a two-time NBA MVP, said his latest accomplishment will be something to reflect on after he retires.

“Like I always say, it’s just something that after I finish my career, it’s a legacy milestone,” Jokic said. “I’m going to look back and say, ‘That’s a really cool thing to do.'”

Denver coach Michael Malone was impressed with Jokic’s efficient night and seemed surprised that there was a team against which his star player hadn’t posted a triple-double.

“Was Washington the only team he didn’t have a triple-double against?” Malone asked in response to the line of questioning. “He can cross Washington off the list finally. …

“He’s one of the best passers to ever play this game. That’s saying a lot. He can just impact the game across the board. As we always talk about, he’s just the definition of greatness.”

Teammates Michael Porter Jr. added 22 points and 11 rebounds, Jamal Murray had 18 points and eight assists, and Aaron Gordon scored 17 points against the Wizards.

Denver has defeated Portland five straight times and will catch the Trail Blazers in a skid. Portland lost its final six games prior to the All-Star break.

The Trail Blazers lost four straight games at home before the break. Friday’s game against Denver will be the first of three more at home.

In their final game before the break, the Trail Blazers were crushed 128-91 by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 15. Portland trailed 44-14 after the first quarter.

The best news Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups heard over the All-Star break was center Duop Reath being signed to a standardized NBA contract. Reath had been on a two-way deal.

The 27-year-old Reath has been a solid contributor as a rookie with averages of 8.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 40 games. He has made 11 starts.

“I love seeing people get what they deserve,” Billups told reporters. “He’s made a great impact on our team. That was the most happy thing that happened over the break.”

Reath said it was amazing to receive the news. He didn’t bring big expectations with him to Portland.

“I just wanted to come in here and give it my all and see what happens,” Reath said.

Rookie point guard Scoot Henderson played in the Rising Stars game associated with the All-Star Game but will miss Friday’s contest with a strained left adductor.

That will leave Portland short-handed at the point with veteran Malcolm Brogdon (elbow) still sidelined.

Forward Jabari Walker (ankle) is listed as questionable.

Denver’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope departed the win over the Wizards with a sprained finger on his right hand. Malone was unsure of the severity.

The Nuggets won a home back-to-back set against Portland earlier this season, prevailing 120-108 on Feb. 2 and 112-103 on Feb. 4. Jokic had a season-best 22 rebounds in the first matchup as part of a triple-double.

–Field Level Media

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