While Brandon Row sat on the pine and Greg Oden packed his luggage for a surgerycation in Colorado, it was the newest Portland Trail Blazer—Wesley Matthews—that ignited the spark and lead the team to a 86-83 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night. As Portland struggled out of the gates and watched Denver nearly turn a close game into an early blowout, Matthews stepped in, popped his collar, and drained three consecutive three-pointers in a wild 63-second span. Redirecting the entire flow of the game—new nickname: Basketball Moses—Matthews provided the offensive punch Portland so desperately needed with Roy perched on the sidelines. Also, it should be mentioned that Matthews is only two years removed from college and has started just 50 games in the NBA.
And unlike the Blazers' lone all-star, Matthews can play defense (sorry, Brandon). Nicolas Batum had a hand (and body) in this as well, as he and Matthews held Carmelo Anthony to 5-of-15 shooting and forced Denver's best player into an early trip to the showers as he fouled out with 3:35 left in the game. From there is was nothing but nail-biting (missed) free-throws, as Portland finally closed out Denver and remained undefeated when holding opposing teams under 100 points.
As always, Andre Miller and his "old man game" proved his worth as the best point guard in the league that no one talks about, and LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points (that is good) and ten rebounds (that is great). The Blazers welcome Matthews' former team, the Utah Jazz, on Saturday night. Utah coach Jerry Sloan—who has coached that team since basketball was played with leather orbs and peach baskets—will miss the game to attend a funeral.