Lillard Lifts Blazers Over Clippers To Snap Road Losing Streak
Portland's Point Guard Scores 32 Second Half Points
LOS ANGELES – Damian Lillard’s second half scoring outburst helped the Trail Blazers break through on the road with a 131-127 win against the Clippers in front of 16,030 at STAPLES Center. The win snapped a six-game road losing streak that dated back to Nov. 21.
"This was an important win for us, get back on track, getting a win on the road against a team that's right there with us in the standings," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "I liked the way we competed, liked the way we finished the game."
The Trail Blazers are now 17-13 overall, one game better than at this time a season ago, and 6-9 on the road this season. Portland now leads the season series with the Clippers 2-1 with the final game scheduled to be played on March 12 in Los Angeles.
Lillard added another game to a long line of huge second half performances. The three-time NBA All-Star scored 22 points in the third quarter and 32 in the second half, two shy of the franchise record he set in Orlando earlier this season. Lillard entered the game leading the NBA in both third quarter scoring (9.8) and second half scoring (14.8).
"(Lillard) had it going," said Stotts. "I thought our guys did a really good job of screening and giving him some space to get some good looks at the threes. I’m not sure what he had in the third quarter, but when you give him time and space, I like our chances."
Those chances came early and often in a game of runs – well, quarters – on Monday night.
The Trail Blazers led by as many as 15 points, 35-20, and matched a season high for scoring in the first period in taking a 37-29 lead. Portland made nine straight field goals at one point in the opening quarter.
The Clippers flipped the script in the second quarter in what has become a theme in Blazers games this season. Los Angeles carried a 31-21 margin in the second period to take a two-point lead into halftime at 60-58. With tonight’s results, Portland is now +69 on the season in the first quarter but -47 in the second.
Portland quickly restored its double-digit lead with an exceptional third period. The Trail Blazers outscored the Clippers, 42-28, setting a season high for points in a quarter in the process, with over half of those points coming courtesy of Lillard.
"The way everybody played in the first half, it kind of left things open," said Lillard, who went 7-of-9 from the field, 5-of-6 from three and 3-of-4 from the free throw line in the third quarter alone. "We got a few stops to start the third and we came down the floor and (Nurkic) set some good screens up high and I was able to get downhill. The bigs stayed back, so I was able to raise up comfortably and the next time I came down the big was ready for me to shoot a three and I got a layup. It was a product of what we did in the first half with ball movement and making plays for each other. So many guys had a part in how we played in the first half, but in the second half a lot of things opened up for me, and it turned into a good quarter."
The Trail Blazers would go on to shoot 64 percent from the field and 70 percent from three in the third to take a 100-88 lead into the final frame. The Trail Blazers have yet to lose a game this season when they have a lead going into the fourth quarter, and that streak would not end Monday night.
Los Angeles won the final quarter but not by enough to take the game. The Clippers closed to within one point at 127-126 with 19 seconds remaining, but the Blazers sealed the win at the foul line.
"We’re still confident, but we just have to stay locked in," said Moe Harkless. "There’s been times where we’ve had leads like that and we gave it up. I think the past two games, we’ve been able to show a bit of our growth, and we were able to keep it together and close out the game."
• CJ McCollum made his first six shots from the field and finished with 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting.
• Jusuf Nurkic (20 points, 7 assists) recorded his seventh 20-point game of the season.
• Maurice Harkless scored a season-high 13 points in his 17th game of the season (10th start). He scored 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting in the first half.
• Tobias Harris scored a career-high 39 points (15-22 FG) to go with a game-high 11 rebounds.
• In the first quarter, Portland’s starters made 14 of their 18 field goal attempts, and the team distributed 10 assists without a turnover.
• Portland’s 131 points were its second-most this year (132, Nov. 1 vs. New Orleans).
"I’m feeling really good, but I just have to keep putting the work in and keep getting after it every day. I’m trying just to feel good and I’ve been feeling great, so I’m excited about where I’m at." -- Moe Harkless on returning from injury
With Monday's game in the books, the Trail Blazers now head back to Portland to host three games against Western Conference opponents starting Wednesday night versus the Grizzlies at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.