Lillard leads Trail Blazers past Thunder 102-99
Lillard had 23 points and 13 assists to help the Portland Trail Blazers hold off Oklahoma City 102-99 on Wednesday night.
In last year’s first-round playoff matchup between the teams, Lillard’s deep 3-pointer over Paul George won Game 5 and the series. This time, after making just 4 of 15 shots the first three quarters, Lillard made three 3-pointers in an 86-second flurry in the fourth that turned a three-point deficit into a five-point lead.
Lillard rested to start the final period and mapped out his strategy.
“The whole time I was sitting on the bench, I knew I was going to come in and try to keep it in my hands a little bit more and try to impose my will on the game a little bit more,” he said. “And it worked out.”
The Trail Blazers led the rest of the way.
The Thunder have been competitive in their losses, but they haven’t had a scorer like Lillard step up at critical moments to get them over the top.
“I was telling the guys postgame that’s why guys get paid the big bucks — to make big shots like that in the fourth quarter,” Thunder guard Chris Paul said. “Dame got it going.”
C.J. McCollum scored 22 points and Kent Bazemore added 14 for the Trail Blazers.
Portland led 49-44 at halftime. The Trail Blazers shot 38.1% in the first half while the Thunder shot 35%. Lillard made just 2 of 8 shots in the first half and scored seven points.
A 3-pointer by Paul tied the game at 53 early in the third quarter, and then he made a jumper to put the Thunder ahead by two. The Thunder took a 69-68 lead into the final period.
Diallo grabbed three offensive rebounds on one possession before finally scoring to put the Thunder up 79-76, and Mike Muscala‘s layup on an assist from Paul put the Thunder up by five before the Trail Blazers rallied.
“It was an ugly game,” Lillard said. “Both teams turned it over, missing shots, a lot of bad possessions, low-scoring. So you knew it was going to come to the last five, six minutes.”
Trail Blazers: Held the Thunder to 27.8% shooting in the first quarter to take a 24-17 lead. … C Hassan Whiteside left the game late in the second quarter after injuring his left knee. He later returned. He finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. … McCollum made just 7 of 22 shots.
Thunder: C Steven Adams sat out with a left knee contusion. Coach Billy Donovan said Adams will be re-evaluated on Thursday. … Muscala made 2 of 9 shots and scored four points. … G Hamidou Diallo had a career-high 10 rebounds to go with 12 points.
The Thunder made just 4 of 27 3-point attempts and shot 39.3% overall. Danilo Gallinari made 3 of 9 3s, and the rest of the team made 1 of 18.
“We’re getting great shots,” Paul said. “That’s the thing. Sharing the ball isn’t a problem for us. If that was a problem, I’d be worried. Shots are going to start falling, so we’ve just got to keep playing the way we’re playing.”
Lillard on his late assist to Rodney Hood for a 3-pointer: “Sometimes, we’re going to be able to have success when I’m making shots, taking over, when I’m the one scoring the ball. But I think it’ll go further and it will be stronger and we’ll be able to do it more often when we trust in each other making that extra pass and guys are in that situation where they get an opportunity to take and make a big shot.”
The Trail Blazers host the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
The Thunder host the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
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