ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Ty Lawson had George Karl's blessing to take over.
Lawson had 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter as the Denver Nuggets scrambled down the stretch but held off the Blazers 111-109 on Wednesday night.
"I tried to get everyone involved, but as the game was coming down and we needed big shots. I just tried to take it to the hole," Lawson said. "Today, I was knocking 'em down."
Denver, which led by as many as 12 points in the first half, lost the lead to the Blazers late in the third quarter but went ahead 96-95 on Lawson's layup with 4:54 left.
After rookie Damian Lillard's layup briefly put the Blazers back up 101-10, Andre Iguodala and Lawson scored to give Denver a 106-101 lead. Wesley Matthews answered with a 3-pointer and LaMarcus Aldridge added a turnaround jumper that tied it at 106 with 33.8 seconds left.
But former Blazer Andre Miller's scoop under the basket with 24.9 seconds to go gave the Nuggets back the lead, and Aldridge missed a jumper on the other end. Lillard made a 3-pointer as time wound down and Miller made free throws for the final margin.
"It was kind of funny, we were running a play and he (Lawson) swung it and we got a lousy shot," Karl said. "So I just said to him, 'We're not gonna run any more plays. You've got one option, go into the paint and find it. Find the shot, not someone else.'"
Iguodala matched his season high with 29 for the Nuggets, who snapped a six-game losing streak at the Rose Garden. Denver outscored the Blazers 32-27 and shot 59.1 percent from the field in the final quarter.
Lillard led Portland with 26 points and J.J. Hickson had his 31st double-double of the season with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
"It's tough to come up short at the end of a game that we really needed to win," Lillard said.
The Nuggets were without starter Danilo Gallinari, the team's leading scorer with an average of 16.9 points per game, for the second straight game because of a left thigh bruise. Wilson Chandler started again in his place.
Even without Gallinari, the Nuggets defeated the Lakers 119-108 on Monday, their seventh straight win at home. Denver is currently sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference standings.
The Blazers were coming off a 92-86 victory over Boston on Sunday night that snapped a season-high seven-game losing streak.
Portland is still clinging to playoff hopes, but its chances are growing dim. Portland is four games back of Houston for the eighth and final spot in the West. The Lakers are 2
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