'Lillard Time' Lifts Trail Blazers To Extend Win Streak Versus Lakers To 13

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- https://twitter.com/DavidMacKayNBA/status/926330035153149952Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard hit a stepback three-pointer over Brandon Ingram with 0.7 seconds to play to lift Portland to a 113-110 victory versus the Los Angeles Lakers in front of a sellout crowd of 19,496 Thursday night at the Moda Center.

“It’s good to get a close game win,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “We need that, especially on the heels of not only last night but some of the other games. Dame’s shot was huge. He really carried us in the second half.”

The Trail Blazers are now 5-4 overall and 4-2 at home this season. The win is Portland’s 13-straight versus the Lakers, a streak dating back to March of 2014.

The Trail Blazers played about as well as they possibly could in the first 12 minutes of Thursday’s game, which indicated that perhaps their issues with slow starts had been solved. Portland shot 71 percent from the field, 6-of-7 from three and finished the quarter on a 13-2 run to take a 41-25 lead into the second quarter.

But oh, those second quarters. Behind 13 points from center Brook Lopez, the Lakers outscored the Trail Blazers 37-25 in the quarter to erase almost the entirety of what was at one point an 18-point lead.

“After a good first quarter, I felt like we stopped playing the way that got us the lead,” said Stotts. “That was disappointing.”

That disappointment would continue for most of the second half, with the Lakers shoot 57 percent from the field while holding the Trail Blazers to 32 percent in the third quarter. While Portland did take a lead into the fourth quarter, all the momentum was with the road team going into the final 12 minutes.

But Lillard had started to heat up in the second half, scoring 10 points in the third while the rest of the team struggled from the field. He’d score nine points in the fourth, including the go-ahead three-pointer to all but secure the victory while adding to his reputation as a late-game closer the night after having what would have been a game-winning floater blocked in their loss to Utah.

“My entire career, every time I’ve missed one and then the next time I’m in that position, it always goes in my favor,” said Lillard. Like last year, we lost a game in Philly. I missed a free throw, we had a two-point lead, could have been three, they hit a three. We went to Boston the next game, I was in the same position, make the free throws and we win the game. My rookie year, the first game winner I made, it came right after coach gave me the ball and I missed. Usually after that first miss, the next one is going in. It’s funny that it happened the next night but I felt good about it. I backed him up, I got a good look at the rim and I rose up with confidence.”

Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 32 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the field, 2-of-6 shooting from three and perfect 14-of-14 shooting from the free throw line. The 6-3 point guard out of Weber State also added six rebounds and five assists in 38 minutes.

Jusuf Nurkić tied his career-high for field goal makes with 12 to finish with 28 points, five rebounds, five assists and three turnovers in 28 minutes.

"His offense was really good as far as finishing around the basket," said Stotts of Nurkić. "I thought our guards did a nice job of finding him on the rolls, on pick and rolls, the passes that they made to him in the lane made his job easier. So I think it was a combination of both of them, but it was good for him to have a night like that where he was finishing around the basket."

CJ McCollum finished with 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting. Pat Connaughton added nine points and Evan Turner went for six points, seven rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes.

The Lakers were led by Brook Lopez, who went 9-of-15 from the field for 27 points to go with three rebounds and a block in 29 minutes. Rookie Kyle Kuzma went 10-of-17 from the field for 22 points in 28 minutes. Kuzma's rookie counterpart Lonzo Ball went scoreless in 28 minutes.

Next up, the Trail Blazers continue their six-game homestand by hosting reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.