----- Damian Lillard scores 33 points and dishes out 12 assists as the Portland Trail Blazers defeat the Dallas Mavericks 126-118 Wednesday night at Moda Center in Portland, OR.
On a night when Dirk Nowitzki played his final game at Moda Center, Damian Lillard put on a show.
Lillard was once again at his best with CJ McCollum out of the lineup (left knee) scoring a game-high 33 points and dishing out 12 assists in 30 minutes of action. He connected on nine of his 18 shots including a sizzling 6-for-12 from three-point range. Lillard was unconscious in the third quarter scoring 17 points while nailing four of seven from downtown.
“I thought it was another very special night by Damian," head coach Terry Stotts said. "He pretty controlled the game from our standpoint. Took advantage of his scoring opportunities, another great night passing and finding people.”
Lillard had plenty of help with six Blazers scoring in double-figures. Jake Layman broke out of his slump to score 13 points, Maurice Harkless scored in double-figures for the third straight game finishing with 10, and Jusuf Nurkic recorded his 34th double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Seth Curry scored 20 points off the bench on 8-for-16 shooting and Enes Kanter added 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Blazers' bench poured in 51 points.
With the game tied at 38 with 6:46 to play in the first half, Portland blitzed Dallas with a 27-14 to take a 13-point halftime lead. With Lillard's hot shooting in the third, the Blazers pushed their lead to 18 heading to the fourth. The Mavericks would not threaten again.
Portland (44-27) is now 5-1 in their last six games.
It was a perfect night for the Trail Blazers with the Spurs, Rockets, and Thunder all losing. The Blazers now have a three-game edge on the Thunder and Spurs in the loss column and are even with the Rockets. This is critical because San Antonio and Oklahoma City own the tiebreaker against Portland. With Houston's loss, the Blazers and Rockets are now even with the Rockets in the loss column at 27.
A great site to monitor for the NBA playoff race is playoffstatus.com. After Wednesday night's results, they give the Trail Blazers at a 41% chance to secure the three-seed in the Western Conference playoff standings.
Notes- Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki may have played his final game in Portland on Wednesday night. He is expected to retire, but will wait until the season ends before he makes that decision. The Moda Center crowd showed their appreciation by chanting "we want Dirk" to Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and delivered a standing ovation to him when he was shown on the Jumbo Tron.
“I always loved playing here,” Nowitzki said of his visits to Portland. “Great teams, physical teams.
Up Next- The Trail Blazers will host the Detroit Pistons Saturday evening at Moda Center. The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:00 PM.
Chad's Take- This is the best I have ever seen from Lillard. He is doing everything on the floor right now. Impressive.