DENVER — Nikola Jokic missed his third straight triple-double with 28 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists as the Denver Nuggets bounced back as they defeated the Chauncey Billups 124-95 on Sunday night’s Portland Trail Blazers.
Denver-born Billups, who played twice for the Nuggets, lost his head coaching career in his hometown without Damian Lillard.
Lillard came out with what the team calls lower abdominal tendinopathy. It’s an injury the guard has dealt with before, which aggravated Tuesday night’s Los Angeles Clippers. Lillard played Wednesday and Friday night before Billups excluded him from the game on Sunday night.
“You know, Dame doesn’t like sitting in any game, any practice, anything, so I had to force her to do that,” Billups said before the game. ‘It’s too early for the season to play injured every night. You need a break, take a break. I may have to give you one if you don’t think you need it.’
CJ McCollum led Portland with 21 points, while Lillard was replaced by Anfernee Simons with 16 points. Portland fell 1-7 away.
Six Nuggets players scored in double digits. Rookie Bones Hyland scored a career-high 18 points for the fourth game in a row.
With 1:24 left in the third quarter, Jokic led Denver 88-77 and sat in the fourth quarter. The Blazers went into nine, but Denver went to a 21-4 run in the late third and early fourth quarter.
The Nuggets were up 15 points and missed their fifth straight win at home. They closed the first half leading 67-53 and were up 18 points early in the third half.
Nuggets: G Will Barton did not play due to back strain. He went to the locker room before the opening tip and never came back. … Manager Michael Malone hasn’t given any updates on F’s condition. Porter has been absent since he left with back pain on November 8 playing against Miami.
Trail Blazers: host Toronto on Monday night.
Nuggets: Monday night in Dallas.