Roy's Christmas present; 41 points to beat Nuggets

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by Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on December 26, 2009 at 1:24 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. - Brandon Roy learned from Portland's loss on Christmas last season, so he pared down his holiday schedule to make sure he was prepared to face Denver this year

He sure looked ready

Roy had 41 points while wearing a thin brace to protect his sore left shoulder and Steve Blake added 17 to lead the Trail Blazers to a 107-96 win over the Nuggets on Friday night.

Roy, who missed Wednesday's win at San Antonio, had 25 points in the first half and made a career-high 16 field goals for Portland, which has won four straight and six of seven despite a spate of injuries. The Trail Blazers lost 102-94 to Dallas last Christmas, when Roy finished with 22 points on 8-of-20 shooting.

This holiday matchup went much better.

"It was Christmas Day, and I didn't feel like a prepared the team last year -- when we came out, we enjoyed the day a little too much," Roy said. "Today I was focused all day long and I wanted to come out and play well tonight."

Blake hit five 3-pointers, including three in the final 4:05 as the Blazers pulled away. Andre Miller had 14 points and eight rebounds and LaMarcus Aldridge had 10 points and 13 boards.

Carmelo Anthony had 32 points and nine rebounds, reserve J.R. Smith scored 20 and Kenyon Martin had 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Northwest Division-leading Nuggets, who have dropped four straight road games.

Chauncey Billups, who missed three games with a groin injury, returned to Denver's starting lineup. He had 10 points and five assists, but sat out the second half as a precaution. Denver is off Saturday but plays back-to-back games against Dallas and Sacramento starting Sunday.

"I think without Chauncey the balance of our offense gets out of sync a little bit too much," Denver coach George Karl said. "That's on me."

Portland has had a series of injuries -- center Joel Przybilla underwent season-ending right knee surgery Thursday -- but has managed to keep it together.

"We've tried to focus hard and be one unit, and it's been coming together," Aldridge said. "We've been playing really solid basketball."

The Nuggets led 76-74 after three quarters but couldn't stop Roy and Blake in the fourth. Roy hit a 3-pointer from the corner, LaMarcus Aldridge powered in a layup and Roy added another 3 to put Portland up 93-85 with 6:01 remaining. Blake's three 3s in the final minutes helped the Trail Blazers extend the lead.

Anthony helped Denver get off to a quick start. His second-quarter dunk gave the Nuggets a 35-26 lead but Portland closed to 51-49 at halftime.

 NOTES: Denver lost for the first time this season when carrying a lead into the final period. The Nuggets are 16-1 when leading after the third. ... The Nuggets beat Portland 97-94 at the Rose Garden on Oct. 29. ... The Blazers are 14-2 when playing on Christmas.

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