DENVER (AP) — J.J. Hickson scored 19 points and rookie Emmanuel Mudiay hit two game-sealing free throws with 18.3 seconds remaining, helping the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 108-104 on Monday night.
Mudiay finished with 18 points and Kenneth Faried added 17 — and drew a key late charge — as the Nuggets ended an eight-game skid to the Trail Blazers.
Hickson came up big down the stretch, hitting four free throws in the final 1:49 to keep the Blazers at bay.
With Denver up 106-104, Mudiay connected two free throws. He then blocked Damian Lillard’s layup to close out Denver’s first win at home this season.
Lillard led Portland with 30 points. Backcourt mate CJ McCollum had a rough shooting night early, but scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Blazers in the game.
Portland took a lead into the fourth quarter for a second straight night, and again couldn’t close it out.
On Sunday, the Blazers blew a 13-point lead in the final quarter during a 120-103 home loss to Detroit.
Minutes before tip, the injury-plagued Nuggets announced backup point guard Jameer Nelson was a scratch because of a lower back ailment. They were already missing Joffrey Lauvergne (back), Wilson Chandler (hip) and Jusuf Nurkic (knee).
With Nelson hobbled, Randy Foye brought the ball up the court when rookie Mudiay was out of the game.
Lillard had a four-point play with 4.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter as he launched a deep 3-pointer as Foye tried to grab him. He hit the basket and the free throw to give the Blazers an 80-79 lead.
Denver grabbed the lead for good on a dunk by Hickson with 4:17 remaining.
Trail Blazers: The Blazers had all five starters score in double figures. … Lillard and McCollum have been averaging 48.7 points a game this season, the second-highest total behind only Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (56.4).
Nuggets: Lauvergne missed his fourth straight game. Chandler and Nurkic have yet to play this season. … Kostas Papanikolaou scored his first basket in a Nuggets uniform early in the second quarter. The 6-foot-8 forward was acquired in the deal that sent Ty Lawson to Houston over the summer. Papanikolaou was waived in September, but brought back last week when the team released guard Erick Green. … Hickson had 13 rebounds.
Trail Blazers: Host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.
Nuggets: Host the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.