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NBA -- Lillard's 30 guide Blazers to 115-108 win over Nuggets


PhilBoxing.com




PORTLAND -- Damian Lillard exploded for 30 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 115-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday at the Moda Center.

Before a sold-out home crowd of 19,890, Lillard sank five 3s and finished with six rebounds and five dimes in a sizzling All-Star performance.

The victory improved the Blazers' record to 51-29 and increased their lead to two games over the 49-31 Utah Jazz for the fourth seed and home court advantage in Round 1 of the Western Conference playoffs.

Portland hit 41 of 89 field goals (46.1 percent) and punished the Nuggets off the boards, 58-42.
Their bigs -- Al-Farouq Aminu and Enes Kanter ---- combined for 24 rebounds and 34 points while Seth Curry and Rodney Hood each had 11 points off the bench.

An added bonus for Portland was the return of All-Star shooting guard C.J. McCollum who was sidelined for ten games by a knee injury. He was eased into the lineup and scored nine points in 25 minutes.

"I felt like I was moving pretty well. I felt my conditioning was in pretty good shape," said McCollum, who is averaging 21.1 points per game in 69 outings this season.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, rested their top three scorers in Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap and Jamal Murray. With the season winding down, they are already assured of home court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs either as a No.2 or No.3 seed. The coaching staff felt that rest was more important than getting a higher seed as the postseason begins this coming weekend.

Without their top guns, Gary Harris carried the scoring load for Denver with 18 points. Malik Beasley and Trey Lyles contributed 15 apiece, but it wasn't enough as the Nuggets, who fell to 53-27, shot only 42 of 95 from the field (44.2 percent) and missed nine of their 20 free throws. (RG)


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Ryan Gallardo.


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