Damian Lillard drops 61 to lead Portland past Dallas, keep playoff hopes alive

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Ryan Young
·Writer
·3 min read
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Damian Lillard wasn’t going to lose on Tuesday night.

He more than made sure of that.

Lillard put up a career-tying 61 points — marking yet another 50-point game this season — to lead the Portland Trail Blazers past the Dallas Mavericks 134-131 at Walt Disney World, keeping their postseason hopes alive in the process.

“It ain’t nothing I want more,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes after the game. “I told you when I first came here, I ain’t come here to waste my time. They gave us a chance to get in like we asked for, and that’s what we’re here to do … our work ain’t done yet, but we’re fighting for it.”

Dame Time yet again

Lillard’s performance on Tuesday marked the 11th 50-point game in his career, and the sixth this season alone. He put up 51 in their 124-121 win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, too, which makes him the first Traill Blazers player to ever have back-to-back 50-point games.

Tuesday also marked the third 60-point game for Lillard of the season. The only other player in NBA history to accomplish that feat was Wilt Chamberlain.

He went 9-of-17 from the 3-point line, and even hit an insane 3-point bucket from well beyond the arc in the fourth quarter when he caught a tremendously lucky bounce off the rim.

He was a perfect 18-of-18 from the free-throw line, too, and has made 33 of his last 34 from the stripe since missing two against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Carmelo Anthony added 26 points and eight rebounds in the win, fourth in their last five contests. Kristaps Porzingis led Dallas with 36 points while shooting an impressive 7-of-9 from behind the arc. Luka Doncic finished with 25 points, and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 24.

Portland controls its own destiny

The Trail Blazers started the NBA bubble well outside of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, and have had to climb back into contention.

Now, thanks to the win on Tuesday, the Blazers have taken the No. 8 seed in the West and can lock in a spot in the play-in series with a win on Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets. The Memphis Grizzlies — who held the No. 8 seed upon arrival in Florida — and undefeated Phoenix Suns are still right there, while the San Antonio Spurs are sitting just behind in fourth in that race.

“That’s the most important game of our lives,” Lillard said. “Tonight was great. We said we need one win. We’re going to focus on one game. We got this one done, and that’s the most important one. We got to finish it out right. We’ve got to come out with the same mentality we had tonight, get the job done. We control our own destiny and we know what we’ve got to do.”

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