Lillard has 44, Blazers overcome Durant's 50, beat Warriors
By ANNE M. PETERSON
Feb. 15, 2018
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard said it may have been Portland's best win of the season.
Lillard had 44 points and eight assists, and the Trail Blazers overcame Kevin Durant's 50 points to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Golden State Warriors with a 123-117 victory on Wednesday night.
CJ McCollum added 29 points for the Blazers (32-26), who go into the All-Star break six games over .500.
"Going into the break, how tight the standings are in the West, needing to come up with a big win, and we came up with it. So it's probably our best performance, if not the best then definitely top two or top three," said Lillard, who has scored 133 points in the last three games, the highest point total for that span in franchise history.
Lillard is also the first player in the league this season with at least 39 points in three straight games.
Portland spoiled Durant's fifth career 50-point game and first this season. He added seven rebounds and six assists, but despite his efforts Golden State had its three-game winning streak snapped and fell a half-game behind Houston for the league's best record.
The Blazers led by as many as 20 points in the first half but Stephen Curry's 3-pointer tied it at 99 with 7:10 left.
The Warriors couldn't get ahead and Lillard's 3-pointer put Portland up 109-101 with 5:05 to play.
Durant's 3-pointer closed Golden State to 114-111 but McCollum got a 3 for the Blazers on the other end with 2:15 left. Durant's reverse layup and a pair of free throws cut the margin to 117-115 before Evan Turner's free throws padded the lead for Portland.
The teams traded free throws before Durant nailed a 3-pointer — but the officials said he stepped out of bounds. After review the call was confirmed and the Warriors (44-14) couldn't catch up.
"It was obviously kind of a signature win for us this year so far," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "We knew we were going to have to score points to have a chance to beat them and we made a lot of good plays. Dame was terrific from the start."
Durant said the Warriors need to have more of a sense of urgency.
"Teams get up to play us. They want to beat us, and they give us their best," Durant said. "Some guys are going to have great nights against us. They did tonight."
Portland had lost four of its last six, including a 115-96 loss to the surging Utah Jazz on Sunday night.
Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic left that game and was listed as questionable against the Warriors with low back soreness, a right calf strain, and right oblique pain. But he started and finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Golden State's Draymond Green was also questionable with a sprained left index finger, but he also started and had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Portland jumped out to a 19-8 lead after Lillard hit a pair of 3-pointers and McCollum added another. Lillard's layup extended the Blazers' lead to 38-18.
Lillard finished the first quarter with 18 points. Portland led 63-51 at the half.
Durant made a 3-pointer and a free throw to narrow the score to 74-73 in the third quarter, his second four-point play of the game. It was as close as the Warriors could get in the quarter and Portland led 92-87 going into the final period. Durant had 18 points in the third quarter alone.
The Blazers were 10 games below .500 at the All-Star break last season. Portland is in sixth place in the Western Conference, a half-game up on the Nuggets and Pelicans.
"Like I said, it's a tight race. There's a lot of teams in the mix and you get to the point of the season where teams are fatigued physically and mentally," Lillard said. "To be a leader of a team you've got to be willing to lead the charge, and not just by saying it, it has to be your actions."
Warriors: Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked before the game if he's still feeling mentally fried. "No, I'm going to Hawaii tomorrow," he said. ... It was Golden State's first game on Valentine's Day since 2007. They had won five straight on the holiday. ... Durant on the 50 points: "I took the same shots tonight as I always take. I just happened to get more of them up."
Trail Blazers: Lillard was presented with his All-Star jersey before the game. It will be Lillard's third All-Star Game. ... Former Blazer Bill Walton was part of the television broadcasting team, but during a few timeouts he joined the stunt team in tossing T-shirts to the crowd.
Kerr spoke before the game about Wednesday's school shooting in Florida.
"Nothing has been done. It doesn't seem to matter to our government that children are being shot to death day after day in schools. It doesn't matter that people are being shot at a concert, movie theater. It's not enough apparently to move our leadership, our government, the people who are running this country, to actually do anything. That's demoralizing. But we can do something about it: We can vote people in who actually have the courage to protect people's lives and not just bow down to the NRA because they financed their campaign for them. Hopefully we'll find enough people, first of all, to vote good people in, but hopefully we can find enough people with courage to actually help our citizens remain safe and focus on the real safety issues, not building some stupid wall for billions of dollars that has nothing to do with our safety, but actually protecting us from what truly is dangerous, which is maniacs with semi-automatic weapons just slaughtering our children. It's disgusting."
Warriors: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 22.
Trail Blazers: Visit Utah on Feb. 23.
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