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Iverson, Blake lead Nuggets past Trail Blazers

Jan 15, 2007 - 6:43 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson and Steve Blake needed little help as they gave the Denver Nuggets an overwhelming cushion in the third quarter.

Iverson scored 32 points and Blake added a career-high 25 for the Nuggets, who won for just the second time in nine games with a 109-93 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Denver broke open the contest by scoring the the first 18 points of the third quarter. The Nuggets made 14-of-20 shots, including 7-of-10 from the arc, in their highest scoring period (41) of the campaign.

"We got out and we ran, and we just clamped down on defense," Iverson said. "We played a lot better on the defensive end. We didn't give them a bunch of wide-open shots. We got back on defense in transition and when we rebounded the ball, we ran and we put pressure on them."

"At halftime, I just challenged them to win a game with defense rather than think you have to outscore people," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Our offense was created by defensive intensity."

Portland led, 56-49, before Blake and Iverson took matters into their own hands early in the second half. Blake hit four 3-pointers and Iverson made a pair of jumpers and two free throws in Denver's 18-0 run.

"I'm loving (playing with Iverson) right now," Blake said. "I mean, he's making me a better player and you really can't ask for much more than to play with a great player like him. I always loved his game and it's just an honor to be playing with him."

"Steve Blake was very much a glue player out there," Karl said. "He made big shots, but it seems like we had good ball movement and motion when he's in the game."

Iverson finished the quarter with 16 points and J.R. Smith added a pair of baskets from the arc to help the Nuggets widen the margin to 90-73 after the period. Denver outscored Portland, 41-17, in the quarter.

"I just wanted to contribute, you know," Smith said. "They were playing zone and I felt in rhythm, so I just had to hit a couple (of) shots."

After Sergio Rodriguez sank an 18-foot jumper to bring the Trail Blazers within 96-86 with 6:00 remaining, Iverson followed with a three-point play and Blake buried a long jumper with 4:22 to play.

"He (Blake) is definitely a good basketball player," Iverson said. "He can shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor. When I break down defenses, I can look for him out there."

Acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks for Earl Boykins and Julius Hodge on Thursday, Blake made 9-of-13 shots, including 5-of-7 3-pointers, in his return to Portland. He averaged 8.2 points in 68 games with the Trail Blazers last season.

"It means a lot," Blake said. "When they traded me (in the offseason), it wasn't something that I wanted to do. I liked Portland. I wanted to stick around ... so it's nice to come back and perform well."

"I'm not surprised by Steve Blake's performance," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "He pushed the ball and found a good tempo for him. He shot the three-ball well. He did the same thing when he played for Milwaukee against us earlier."

Smith scored 13 points, Nene added 12 and Marcus Camby grabbed 14 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have won 12 of the last 13 encounters with Portland.

Rodriguez made 11-of-14 shots off the bench en route to a career-high 23 points with 10 assists and Juan Dixon had 15 for the Trail Blazers, who have dropped eight of their last 10.

"I just want to take advantage of the minutes I get," Rodriguez said. "It felt good to get out there and help the guys. But you know, a win would feel better."

Coming off Friday's 23-point, 12-rebound outing against the Sacramento Kings, Zach Randolph made just 1-of-12 shots and scored four points.

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