fbpx
Favorites

© 2022 BVM Sports. Best Version Media, LLC.

Favorites

Lillard’s 11 3’s lift rising Portland past Denver, 125-115

Lillard’s 11 3’s lift rising Portland past Denver, 125-115
Trail Blazers Nuggets Basketball - AP Photo/Kevin C. Cox

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Damian Lillard wasn’t off to a great shooting start inside the NBA’s so-called bubble.

If it was a slump, it seems to be over now.

Lillard tied his franchise record with 11 3-pointers and scored 45 points, and the Portland Trail Blazers moved closer to the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference by beating the Denver Nuggets 125-115 on Thursday night.

Lillard was 11 for 18 from 3-point range, plus had 12 assists for Portland. The Blazers (32-38) closed to within a half-game of Memphis in the race for eighth in the West, where a play-in series for the last playoff berth — and the right to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the opening round — now seems almost certain.

“We haven’t been playing games, a lot of live action, and it just takes time,” said Lillard, who was 10 for 30 on 3’s in Portland’s first three games at Walt Disney World. “But it felt good. I knew eventually it would click.”

Gary Trent Jr. had 27 off the bench and Jusuf Nurkic scored 22 for Portland.

Michael Porter Jr. scored 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Denver (45-24), which remained in the West’s No. 3 spot. The Nuggets played most of the fourth quarter with reserves on the floor, limiting Nikola Jokic to 24 minutes.

“I thought our second-half effort was tremendous,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I thought our guys competed. … (Portland was) playing for their playoff lives with all their starters in, we’ve got guys who haven’t played a lot of minutes in the NBA and we’re giving them all they can handle.”

Jokic finished with eight points, five rebounds and 13 assists. Jerami Grant scored 18 for Denver, which — even with the reserve lineup — got within six on a 3-pointer by PJ Dozier with 1:16 left. But Nurkic got free for a dunk, Denver threw the ball away on the ensuing possession and Portland would hang on from there.

Lillard is the second player to have multiple games with at least 10 3-pointers this season, Houston’s James Harden being the other. Lillard had 11 3’s against Golden State on Jan. 20, the night he scored an NBA season-high 61 points.

“Obviously, he had an outstanding game scoring the ball, assists … but more than anything else, his leadership tonight, his will to win was palpable,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said of Lillard. “You could just feel it, how important this was to him.”

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony hasn’t had the best experiences against the Nuggets, the team he spent parts of eight seasons with to start his career. When he’s played, his teams had been 4-12 overall, 1-9 in their last 10 outings against Denver before Thursday. … Lillard had seven points in a 24-second span of the third quarter — a 3-pointer while getting fouled, the free throw, then another 3 on the next possession.

Nuggets: Denver won the season series between the clubs, 3-1. … The Nuggets have games against Utah, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto left before the playoffs — all contenders, but they could also catch some breaks. The Lakers have clinched the No. 1 seed out West, and Toronto could easily be locked into the No. 2 seed in the East by the time that matchup rolls around.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

Friday is the eighth anniversary of Portland hiring Stotts to coach the team. Only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and Dallas’ Rick Carlisle have held their current NBA job longer than Stotts’ stint with the Blazers.

HOT START

Porter had 10 first-quarter points, giving him three consecutive games of at least that many in the opening period in the bubble — all in a span of four days. He didn’t have more than seven points in any of his other 38 first-quarter appearances this season.

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Face the L.A. Clippers on Saturday.

Nuggets: Face Utah on Saturday.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Get local sports news direct to your inbox

Originals

more
Ajani Sheppard: From one year starter to Old Dominion commit

Ajani Sheppard: From one year starter to Old Dominion commit

Iona Preparatory quarterback Ajani Sheppard rose from no Division I offers to more than a…

Northwestern commit Tyler Gant fueled by success on and off field

Northwestern commit Tyler Gant fueled by success on and off field

Three-star Class of 2023 defensive lineman Tyler Gant will look to continue his athletic and…

Nathan Rourke off to record-setting start for BC Lions

Nathan Rourke off to record-setting start for BC Lions

Taking over as the starting quarterback of the BC Lions, former Ohio University standout Nathan…

Shaker Heights cross country coach teaches kids to pursue their dreams

Shaker Heights cross country coach teaches kids to pursue their dreams

While Shaker Heights High School Cross Country coach Dave Englander has had tremendous success coaching…

Mitch Voit is living out a dream with Michigan baseball

Mitch Voit is living out a dream with Michigan baseball

Mitch Voit is about to live out his dream of being a Michigan Wolverine and…

Larissa Preuitt ready to represent ‘dream school’ Alabama

Larissa Preuitt ready to represent ‘dream school’ Alabama

Alabama's reigning Gatorade softball POY is ready to help the Crimson tide win their first…

Alfonso Soriano: From dreaded hitter to shredded dad

Alfonso Soriano: From dreaded hitter to shredded dad

Former MLB slugger Alfonso Soriano retired in 2014 with over 400 home runs and is…

GG Jackson ready to fill ‘big shoes’ at UNC as No. 1 recruit

GG Jackson ready to fill ‘big shoes’ at UNC as No. 1 recruit

GG Jackson’s athletic frame and winning mindset have made him the No. 1 player in…

Why QB Nico Iamaleava should be ranked over Arch Manning

Why QB Nico Iamaleava should be ranked over Arch Manning

Nico Iamaleava may not have the same name recognition as other quarterbacks in his class,…

Sam Kennedy is ready for Minnesota baseball

Sam Kennedy is ready for Minnesota baseball

Sam Kennedy is one of the best pitchers in the state of Minnesota and he…

Louisville commit Nick Drtina leads Nazareth to championship

Louisville commit Nick Drtina leads Nazareth to championship

Louisville commit Nick Drtina led a young and talented Nazareth Academy team to new heights…

Matthew Etzel’s DI dreams come true thanks to Panola

Matthew Etzel’s DI dreams come true thanks to Panola

Matthew Etzel’s dream of playing DI baseball is coming true.

Will Levis’ QB origin story to being a Kentucky Wildcat

Will Levis’ QB origin story to being a Kentucky Wildcat

Will Levis has become the face of the Kentucky football program and a potential first-round…

Atalyia Rijo bringing star-power to Arkansas softball

Atalyia Rijo bringing star-power to Arkansas softball

The top-ranked softball player in the state of New York and recent Gatorade Player of…

Isaac Howard excited for NHL Draft before UMD hockey debut

Isaac Howard excited for NHL Draft before UMD hockey debut

Isaac Howard has one stop at the 2022 NHL Draft before he heads to Duluth…

Brooks Lee brings San Luis Obispo pride to MLB Draft

Brooks Lee brings San Luis Obispo pride to MLB Draft

Brooks Lee has become a role model in his hometown of San Luis Obispo. With…

Arch Manning, No. 1 recruit in 2023 class, commits to Texas

Arch Manning, No. 1 recruit in 2023 class, commits to Texas

Arch Manning announced on Twitter that he will be continuing his football career at the…

Evan Chaffee making jump to Alabama, SEC baseball

Evan Chaffee making jump to Alabama, SEC baseball

Evan Chaffee's journey from Hamburg to becoming an Alabama baseball commit heavily involved Vanderbilt, an…

Dakota Jordan ‘ready to work’ for Mississippi State baseball

Dakota Jordan ‘ready to work’ for Mississippi State baseball

Mississippi State baseball recruit Dakota Jordan is ready to electrify in Starkville.

Karlyn Pickens ready for ‘perfect match’ with Tennessee

Karlyn Pickens ready for ‘perfect match’ with Tennessee

Karlyn Pickens was a tremendous three-sport athlete at North Buncombe High School who helped lead…