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Billups helps Nuggets beat Blazers

Dec 29, 2010 - 8:24 AM Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Chauncey Billups scored 18 points and dished out nine assists, and the Denver Nuggets used a big third quarter to top the Portland Trail Blazers, 95-77, at Pepsi Center.

Nene and J.R. Smith both finished with 17 points and Arron Afflalo added 15 for the Nuggets, who had lost their previous three games without superstar forward Carmelo Anthony.

"We played really good defense and then we executed in the third quarter," Afflalo said. "That was really it, playing good defense and executing on offense."

Anthony missed his fourth straight game to be with his family after the death of his sister, Michelle, who passed away due to a pre-existing medical condition.

The Nuggets expect to have Anthony back on Thursday following their game in Minnesota on Wednesday.

Kenyon Martin scored 10 points and Chris Anderson added eight points and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets, who avoided their first four-game skid since Feb. 14-24, 2007.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 18 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked seven shots, Nicolas Batum scored 14 and Rudy Fernandez added 11 points off the bench for the Blazers, who have lost two of three.

Up 48-41 at halftime, Denver took control in the third quarter. Billups hit a jumper to make it 60-47, ending a 12-6 spurt.

The Nuggets had an overall run of 19-8 to start the quarter -- the tail end was highlighted by Afflalo's three-pointer and jumper -- to make it 67-49.

Billups hit a long jumper to put Denver up 22 with 30.7 seconds remaining. The Blazers pulled within 78-58 heading into the fourth after Dante Cunningham's bucket.

The fourth quarter was all but a formality. Denver's lead reached a game-high 23 points when Anderson connected on two from the line with 6 1/2 minutes remaining.

Billups scored 10 points in the first quarter as Denver took a 25-21 lead after the opening 12 minutes. The Nuggets widened the margin to 48-41 at the half.

"Tonight we looked like we had heavy legs. We hung in there for a half, and that's not enough," Blazers head coach Nate McMillan said.

Game Notes

Denver has won 20 of its last 22 at home against Portland, including five straight...Denver also played without forward Al Harrington (dislocated right thumb)...Portland was without Marcus Camby (sprained right ankle)...The Blazers committed 18 turnovers that the Nuggets turned into 22 points.