DENVER - The best possible sign for the Denver Nuggets on Friday night was a missed layup by Carmelo Anthony. It wasn’t so much the shot, a reverse attempt that rolled off the rim midway through the first quarter.
It was what set it up — a long baseball pass by Kenyon Martin — and what that meant: The Nuggets were running again. After settling for a slow pace in their first two games — both losses — the Nuggets forced the up-and-down tempo they prefer for most of a 107-68 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers in front of 15,595 at the Pepsi Center. “We always knew faster was better — we just didn’t get it done the first two games,” said Martin, who had 11 points. “Tonight let us know that’s the way we need to play.” Denver made five shots in transition in the first quarter and four more in the second. The Nuggets (1-2) had four straight fast-break buckets during a 10-2 run that closed the first quarter and gave them a 30-17 lead. They finished with 32 fastbreak points. More importantly, the Nuggets looked like the high-octane team that finished the 2004-05 season 32-8. Coach George Karl said the Nuggets chart how fast they score, and in the first half they scored 10 times within 10 seconds. “First half, we had some really, really nice stuff,” said Karl, who coached his first game of the season after a two-game suspension. “We started the second half off well, but I thought we got stagnant.” Martin said Karl was yelling at the team to run with a minute left. But lulls were almost inevitable as the Nuggets, who led by 14 at halftime, increased the lead to 20 after three quarters, and Portland (0-2) did its part to help Denver lose focus. The Trail Blazers shot 33.3 percent from the field, missed 13 of 20 free throw attempts and were outscored 25-3 in the final 8:31. Still, it was a necessary feel-good victory. Marcus Camby turned in his second straight standout performance, scoring a game-high 23 points to lead six Nuggets in double figures and grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds. Voshon Lenard finished two assists shy of a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. And Earl Watson played for the first time since he signed in the offseason, showing flashes of brilliance in just over six minutes on the court. He made his first shot as a Nugget (a 3-pointer from the corner), picked up a charge and finished with five points and two assists. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0365 or email@example.com NEXT Denver (1-2) at L.A. Lakers (1-1) 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Altitude, 1300/950 AM