PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Nicolas Batum woke up hoping his injured knee would allow him to play.
As it happened, he set a Trail Blazers record with nine 3-pointers and scored a career-high 33 points to help Portland beat the Denver Nuggets 117-97 Saturday night.
“When I came in tonight I was thinking, `Don’t hurt my knee, don’t be crazy tonight,”‘ said Batum, who sat out two games with a bruised bone. “I tried to drive to the basket . I could not dunk, I could not even make a layup. All I could do is shoot from the 3-point line.”
LaMarcus Aldridge added 29 points for Portland, Gerald Wallace had 17 points and Marcus Camby had 20 rebounds for Portland. Batum made a career-high nine 3-pointers, the most in an NBA game this season and a franchise record for the Blazers.
Danilo Gallinari had 20 points and Ty Lawson and Kosta Koufos each added 16 to lead the Nuggets, who have lost four of their last five, including 93-89 Friday night to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We just need to start being more physical,” said Corey Brewer, who had 14 off the bench for Denver. “The last couple games we haven’t had the physicality we need.”
The Nuggets (15-9) were playing their third game in three days and arrived in Portland after 4 a.m. after their flight out of Denver was delayed because of snow.
Portland was coming off a deflating 95-92 loss at Sacramento on Thursday. The Blazers have been a completely different team on the road this season, where they are 3-9. At the Rose Garden, Portland is 11-1, the second-best home record in the Western Conference to San Antonio, which is 13-1.
The Nuggets (15-9) were playing their third time in as many days and arrived in Portland after 4 a.m. after their flight out of Denver was delayed because of snow. The Blazers were playing on one day’s rest.
Batum returned after missing two games with a bruised knee. The 6-foot-9 small forward provided a spark for the Blazers after entering the game late in the first quarter, hitting 5 of 6 3-pointers and scoring 17 points in a span of less than seven minutes, lifting Portland to a 52-37 lead in the second quarter.
“Trust me, I have to contest those shots in practice every day, so I already know what he can do,” Wallace said. “I was just impressed he was doing that with a banged up knee.”
Denver cut the lead to 59-53 by putting together a 15-4 run going into halftime as Lawson scored eight points. The game got as close as 64-61 in the third on a dunk from Koufos, but the Blazers went on a 14-2 run as the Nuggets hit the wall. Denver was never a threat the remainder of the game and the Blazers led by as many as 25.
“Anytime we play three games in three nights it should be a forty minute game,” Nuggets coach George Karl said.
NOTES: The Nuggets play their next three games at home, against Houston, Dallas and Golden State. … Blazers PG Raymond Felton left the game in the third quarter with sprained foot. X-rays were negative. … Denver G Rudy Fernandez was booed each time he touched the ball. He played for Portland from 2008-11, but fell out of favor with fans when he asked to be released from his contract before last season. Many fans also booed a video image of Greg Oden, the former No. 1 overall draft pick who has not played since December 2009 because of knee injuries. Oden had arthroscopic surgery on Friday in Denver.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)