DENVER -- The Trail Blazers took Denvers best shot -- and the Nuggets took way too many errant shots thanks to Portlands stifling defence. Nets Jerseys China . Damian Lillard made up for the absence of fellow All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge by scoring 31 points in the Trail Blazers 100-95 win over the Nuggets on Tuesday night, including a pair of free throws and a layup in the closing minutes to help hold off Denvers fourth-quarter rally. "It was a difficult game," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "We did a lot of good things, made some big plays defensively to win it at the end. The offence kind of shut down in the fourth quarter but our defence stayed solid, and to get a win like this in Denver is something we needed to do." The Nuggets trimmed an 18-point deficit to two but couldnt catch the Blazers. Denver made just 37 of 103 shots, including 27 of 64 in the paint, and couldnt even find the rim at the line, missing 9 of 26 free throws. Lillard scored 12 points in the third quarter when it looked as if to the Blazers were headed for a blowout win, but he saved his biggest shots for late in the fourth. Lillards clutch shooting helped Portland overcome a terrific performance by Denvers J.J. Hickson, who pulled down a career-high 25 rebounds, including 15 on the offensive side. Hickson led the Nuggets to a 64-41 advantage on the glass, appearing as a reserve power forward after starting 52 games at centre this season. "Twenty-five boards is exciting, but the win would have been more exciting," Hickson said. The Blazers again went with a smaller lineup with Aldridge missing his fourth straight game with a strained left groin, and Dorell Wright helped make up for Aldridges team-high 23.9 points and 11.4 rebounds by giving Denver another long-range shooter to defend. As Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said before tip-off when talking about Aldridges absence, "Theres a big sigh of relief that you dont have to deal with that, but at the same time it just creates a different type of problem: Theyre one of the best -- if not the best -- 3-point shooting teams in the league. Theyre the best free-throw shooting team in the league. Theyre the highest-scoring team in the league." Six Blazers scored in double figures, including Nicolas Batums 16 points. Aldridge averaged 34.5 points in the Blazers two earlier games against Denver this season and the Trail Blazers missed him in the fourth quarter when it was tougher to close this one out than they had expected when they surged to a 79-61 lead in the third. Randy Foye led Denver with 17 points. Denver again was without Ty Lawson, who leads the Nuggets with averages of 18 points and 8.8 assists. Hes missed seven straight games with a broken rib. Shaw also made a big change with his big man, starting 7-foot-1 Timofey Mozgov at centre in place of Hickson, a natural power forward pressed into duty at centre after JaVale McGee fractured his left tibia five games into the season. Hickson filled in admirably, averaging 11.4 points and 9.2 boards, but he shot just 52 per cent from the free-throw line, and Shaw said that "affected his confidence rolling to the basket aggressively and running the floor because maybe he doesnt want to get fouled." Mozgov, who was averaging 8.6 points and 5.8 rebounds, finished with 14 points and six boards. Hickson scored 16 points. Hickson said he was much more comfortable going back to power forward. "It just felt good to play my natural position," he said. He didnt seem bothered coming off the bench, either. "I dont know how many minutes I played, but I definitely played starters minutes tonight," said Hickson, who played just under 30 minutes. "So, coming off the bench or starting, people always tell me its not who starts, its who finishes and tonight, coach made the call to let me finish and that shows he has a lot of confidence in me still." Evan Fourniers pair of free throws with just over four minutes remaining capped a 15-2 run that pulled Denver to 86-84. Lillard ended the drought with a pair of free throws. After back-to-back buckets by Denvers Kenneth Faried, Lillard hit a finger-roll layup for a 92-88 lead, and the Nuggets never got any closer. "When youre in a situation like that, youve just got to find a way to get it done," Lillard said. NOTES: Blazers F Thomas Robinson played just 14 minutes and had a wrap on his left knee after the game. Stotts said he had no information on the injury. Brooklyn Nets Gear .com) - Klay Thompson is quickly proving he is worth every penny of his recently signed four-year contract extension. Nets Jerseys 2019 ." One game is checked off, 15 remain and the next one to get crossed out could come Tuesday night when the defending champion Heat host the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference playoff series.DENVER -- Champ Bailey spent a decade with the Denver Broncos, making eight Pro Bowls and picking off 34 passes even with quarterbacks only reluctantly glancing his way. This number was hard to overlook: $10 million. In a cost-cutting move Thursday, the Broncos released Bailey, the teams defensive leader whos been a fan favourite since he was acquired in a trade with Washington in 2004. Theres simply no room for loyalty in the NFL, especially with free agency about to start and with holes needing to be filled, something that became apparent to the Broncos after a 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl last month. Broncos boss John Elway called the decision to release Bailey a "difficult" one given all that the perennial Pro Bowl cornerback has brought to the team over his 10 seasons in the Mile High City. "Without question, hes among the best cornerbacks to ever play the game and one of the finest players in the history of the Broncos," Elway said in a statement. "You couldnt ask for more in a player than what Champ brought to this team. His combination of elite talent, class, leadership and competitiveness made him one of the all-time greats." But age and injuries had begun to catch up with one of the best shutdown cornerbacks to play the game. Bailey, a 12-time Pro Bowler overall, is scheduled to make around $10 million next season, which is a lot of money for a cornerback who may be asked to switch to safety or possibly inside to the slot position. This was a hard season for the 35-year-old Bailey as he missed 11 games because of a nagging left foot sprain originally suffered in the preseason on Aug. 17 in Seattle. Only later did Bailey reveal he sustained a Lisfranc injury. He returned late in the season to help the Broncos advance to the Super Bowl, but wasnt back to his old form -- the form that had QBs scanning everywhere but his direction. In his prime, Bailey wasnt always very busy because opponents simply picked on his counterpart. And yet he still has 52 career interceptions, the most among active cornerbacks. "I consider it a privilege to have coached Champ these last three years," Broncos coach John Fox said. "Theres no doubt he played an integral role in establishing a culture of winning here. "Aside from hiis natural ability, Champ set a great example with his hard work and relentless commitment to mastering his craft. Fake Nets Jerseys. " The 15-year veteran mentored many teammates, teaching them the tricks of the cornerback trade. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, an impending free agent, once said he used to study film of Bailey simply because, "If youre a cornerback, you have to be a fan of Champ Bailey. Anytime a guy does that for a period of time he did it, 14 or 15 years, youve got to watch him." Rodgers-Cromartie and Bailey were supposed to be a lockdown tandem in 2013. Until Bailey got hurt. So in stepped Chris Harris Jr., an undrafted player out of Kansas who soaked up all of Baileys suggestions as he waited his turn. Once he got on the field, Harris became almost a copy of Bailey -- or as much as anyone can be. Harris blew out a knee against San Diego in the divisional round, leading to Baileys return to his usual spot at left corner. On his Twitter account, Harris thanked Bailey for his help, saying he was blessed to be able to "lineup opposite Champ and learn from a Great." Harris wasnt alone in his praise, with linebacker Danny Trevathan posting on Twitter: "Champ. You taught me a lot!" Although quarterbacks didnt always pick on him, Bailey still found a way to get involved. He prided himself on his tackling and frequently crept up to the line of scrimmage to help out. In 215 regular-season games, Bailey has 983 tackles, three sacks, nine forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. His best statistical season was 2006, when he had a career-high 10 interceptions and finished as runner-up for The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year. About the only thing that eluded Bailey in his time with Denver was that Super Bowl ring. But Elway said there is a "ring" in Baileys future because Elway said hes going to have a place in the teams Ring of Fame once his career is finished. Maybe down the road there will be a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, too, which would make him the first Denver defensive player to be enshrined. "On behalf of everyone with the Broncos, I wish Champ all the best and thank him for everything he did for this franchise," Elway said. "Champ will always be a Bronco." ' ' '