Anthony-less Nuggets pull away to rout Trail Blazers

DENVER — Building a hefty cushion, the Denver Nuggets didn't have to worry about another fourth-quarter breakdown.

Chauncey Billups scored 18 points and the short-handed Nuggets took a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter en route to a 95-77 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Denver snapped a season-high, three-game losing streak, including Sunday's loss to Philadelphia in which the Nuggets blew a fourth-quarter lead at home for the first time in 58 regular-season games.

J.R. Smith and Nene added 17 points apiece for the Nuggets, who were without forward Carmelo Anthony for a fourth consecutive game following the death of his sister. The Nuggets said in a statement that Anthony is expected to rejoin the team on Thursday.

Anthony left the team to be with his family after the death last week of Michelle Anthony, 38.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who lost their fifth straight at the Pepsi Center while being held to a season low in scoring by a Denver opponent. The previous low also was by Portland in an 86-83 victory over the Nuggets at the Rose Garden on Nov. 18.

The Nuggets also were missing forward Al Harrington, who was expected to be sidelined for at least two games with a dislocated right thumb.

Nicolas Batum had 14 points and Rudy Fernandez added 11 for Portland.

The Trail Blazers were without center Marcus Camby, who sprained his right ankle during Monday night's 96-91 win at Utah.

The Nuggets led 48-41 at halftime, scoring five points in the final 1.8 seconds of the second quarter.

The Nuggets opened the third quarter with a 19-8 run that carried Denver to a 67-49 lead. By the start of the fourth, the lead stretched to 78-58.

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