NBA regular season

Lillard, Simons lead unbeaten Portland to best season start in 23 years


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Lillard, Simons lead unbeaten Portland to best season start in 23 years

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) drives on Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) in the first half at Moda Center

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports-Reuters

Portland's back court of Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons combine for 60 points against Denver as the Blazers get off to their best NBA season start since 1999

Damian Lillard recorded 31 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds and Anfernee Simons scored 22 of his 29 points in the third quarter as the Portland Trail Blazers rallied for a solid 135-110 victory over the visiting Denver Nuggets on Monday night (Tuesday, October 25, Manila time).

Jerami Grant scored 21 points for the Trail Blazers, who have opened the season with four straight wins for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

Simons was 11 of 17 from the field and 7 of 12 from 3-point range. He made six of his seven 3-pointers during his explosive third-quarter spurt.

Lillard was 10-of-16 shooting and 4 of 7 from 3-point range and is averaging 37.7 points over the past three outings.

Aaron Gordon scored 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting for the Nuggets, who have split their first four games. Michael Porter Jr. scored 18 points and Bones Hyland added 15.

Two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic scored just nine points on 3-of-4 shooting for Denver. Jokic also had nine rebounds and nine assists.

The big win is just Portland’s fifth in the past 19 regular-season meetings against the Nuggets.

Jusuf Nurkic had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Nassir Little and Shaedon Sharpe added 11 points apiece as Portland overcame a 13-point second-quarter deficit to lead by as many as 27 points. The Trail Blazers outscored Denver 80-49 in the second half.

Portland connected on 57.8% of its shots, including 16 of 35 from 3-point range.

The Nuggets made 49.5% of their shots and were 12 of 31 from behind the arc.

Simons erupted to make the six 3-pointers in a span of 3:40 during his explosive third quarter as the Trail Blazers turned a six-point halftime deficit into a 99-86 lead entering the final stanza.

Simons made three 3-pointers in 93 seconds during a 13-0 burst in which Portland took an 81-70 lead with 5:52 left in the third quarter.

A short time later, Simons connected on three more treys in 63 seconds, the final one giving the Trail Blazers a 90-77 advantage with 4:10 left in the quarter.

Sharpe’s 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter pushed Portland’s lead to 102-86.

Lillard buried a 3-pointer to make it 124-102 with 4:07 left and Portland cruised to the finish.

Gordon scored 14 first-half points as Denver took a 61-55 lead into the break.

Gordon’s dunk gave Denver its biggest lead of the half at 53-40 with 4:16 remaining.

Lillard had 19 in the first half for Portland. –

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