Lillard scores 29, Blazers defeat Spurs 98-90
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard says he saw Portland's victory over San Antonio coming, and not just during the course of the game.
"I think this whole week we've been locked in as a team. It had that feel," Lillard said. "Guys were excited to play."
Lillard scored a career-high 29 points in Portland's 98-90 win over the Spurs on Thursday night. It was the second consecutive loss for San Antonio, which has dropped just six games this season.
Lillard, the sixth pick in last June's NBA draft, added seven rebounds and six assists. He has scored at least 20 points in 13 games this season.
"I think I've had a few better games even though this is the most points I've scored," he said. "I think this was the best I've done in a game we really needed."
And that needed win came in a nationally televised game against the Spurs, who are second only to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference.
San Antonio trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half but Manu Ginobili's layup cut the deficit to 89-85. J.J. Hickson answered for the Blazers with a running hook that made it 91-85 with 2:36 left.
Danny Green hit a 3-pointer to pull the Spurs closer again, but Portland clung to the lead and Nicolas Batum — who has been bothered by a sore back — made a 3 that gave Portland a 96-90 advantage with 1:08 left. Batum hit two free throws with 8 seconds to go for the final margin.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 points and Hickson finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Blazers, who won their second straight and improved to 10-12.
Tony Parker had 21 points for the Spurs, who were coming off a 99-96 loss at Utah on Wednesday night that snapped a five-game winning streak.
"I don't know if it was fatigue," said Tim Duncan, who finished with 16 points and six rebounds. "We just couldn't really ever find our rhythm."
The Blazers were coming off a 92-74 victory over Toronto on Monday during which Portland set an NBA record by going 0 for 20 from 3-point range.
The Blazers were without starter Wesley Matthews for the second straight game. Matthews strained his left hip in the fourth quarter of a loss last Saturday to the Kings. The injury put him on the bench in street clothes for the first time in his four-year NBA career. He had played in 250 straight games, second-most among active players behind Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook.
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