08/06 21:30 CDT Lillard's 11 3's lift rising Portland past Denver, 125-115
Lillard's 11 3's lift rising Portland past Denver, 125-115
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) --- Damian 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.
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.
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
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.
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
Friday is the eighth anniversary of Portland hiring Terry 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
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.
Trail Blazers: Face the L.A. Clippers on Saturday.
Nuggets: Face Utah on Saturday.
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