Oden, GregThe Denver Nuggets dropped a close one yesterday in preseason play, losing 98-96 to the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland star Greg Oden, who sat out his rookie year and a big chunk of his second year with injuries, put up 16 points and seven rebounds (via The Associated Press).

The Nuggets will have a fierce opponent in the Trail Blazers this year if Oden (pictured) can stay healthy. After all, the Nuggets and the Trail Blazers tied in regular-season records last year, and the Nuggets advanced due to a better division record.

The Denver Stiffs blog is picking the Trail Blazers to win the Northwest Division, citing good coaching, depth, youth, and a guy named Brandon Roy—one of the best players in the league.

But Stiffs thinks the Nuggets also have a chance to win the division on the backs of superstar Carmelo Anthony, veteran point-guard and Denver-native Chauncey Billups, and the enigmatic two-guard J.R. Smith, who can light up the scoreboard in a matter of minutes. Stiffs worries, though, that stellar play from Billups and the us-against-the-world mentality that fed the Nuggets last year won’t align again this year.