Damian Lillard put on a memorable show and established career-highs of 71 points and 13 three-pointers to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 131-114 victory over the visiting Houston Rockets on Sunday night, February 26 (Monday, February 27, Manila time).
The 71 points tie for eighth most in NBA history. Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers also scored 71 earlier this season.
Only Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain (five times, high of 100), Kobe Bryant (81) and David Thompson (73) have scored more points in an NBA game.
“I feel like I got to be aggressive and try to do what I can to make sure we get some wins. That was the case tonight. I wanted to be in attack mode. I got it going and I just stayed aggressive,” Lillard said after the game.
It marks the fifth time in his career that Lillard has reached the 60-point mark. Only Chamberlain (32 times) and Bryant (six) have done it more.
Lillard surpassed his own franchise record for points and also set a franchise record with 41 first-half points. The 13 treys tie for second in NBA history with Stephen Curry and Zach LaVine, one behind Klay Thompson’s NBA record.
After his big first half, Lillard said the Rockets “came out and gave me a lot of attention, and I just wanted to be patient. I didn’t want to come out and get right back on the heater. So I kept making the right plays… It softened them up and I was able to get another run going again and it turned back into what it was in the first half.”
Lillard finished 22-of-38 shooting – making 13-of-22 from three-point range – and hit all 14 free throw attempts. Lillard also had 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
Alperen Sengun had 17 points and 10 rebounds and JaeSean Tate also scored 17 points for Houston, which has lost nine straight games and 29 of its last 33. Daishen Nix scored 16 points, Tari Eason had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Kenyon Martin Jr. scored 14 points.
Houston trailed by 23 midway through the third quarter but rallied to within 108-103 on Eason’s basket with 7:45 remaining in the game.
But the Trail Blazers scored the next 10 points, starting when Drew Eubanks scored on a putback.
Lillard then buried a triple and converted a three-point play with a ferocious dunk and a free throw to give Portland a 116-103 advantage with 6:20 remaining. Lillard then made two free throws with 5:48 left to reach his previous career high of 61, accomplished twice.
Lillard then swished a straightaway three-pointer for his 12th trey to set new career highs for points and tripless with 4:43 to play.
Lillard went over 70 when he hit a floater with 1:42 left to cap a 21-point fourth quarter. He exited with 44.5 seconds to go.
Jerami Grant added 13 points and Nassir Little scored 11 for Portland, which connected on 54.5% of its field-goal attempts and was 20-of-39 from three-point range.
The Rockets hit 45% of their attempts and made 7-of-26 from behind the arc.
Lillard was 13-of-19 from the field – including 8-of-11 from three-point range – and made all seven of his free throws in his 41-point first half.
He scored 16 points in the opening quarter when the Trail Blazers led 32-31. Lillard scored 25 points in the second quarter when he knocked down five more three-pointers. The Trail Blazers led 73-58 at the break.
The Trail Blazers led 92-69 after Lillard buried a three-pointer with 5:21 remaining in the third before Houston finished the stanza strong to trail 102-88 entering the final period. – Rappler.com
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