Damian Lillard helps Portland Trail Blazers down Brooklyn Nets

By Dylan Butler, The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 16, 2016 at 12:36 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter

BROOKLYN -- Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard isn't trying to make a statement about finally earning an NBA All-Star Game selection.

Not like he did last year when he said he felt "really disrespected" by the snub.

His game lately is doing all the talking.

Lillard continued his torrid stretch Friday night when he had 33 points and 10 assists to help lift Portland to a 116-104 victory over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

"I'm at the point now where I don't need the validation," Lillard said. "It would be great. I want it, but it definitely won't be the same reaction as last year."

Lillard, who became the first player in the NBA this year to score 30-plus with 10-plus assists and 0 turnovers in a game this season, is averaging 31.3 points per game in his last four.

"I'm in a good groove right now, just a good rhythm," Lillard said. "It's tough to guard when you see some mid-range pull-ups go in, some floaters go in and a deep three go in. It's been times when they've guarded well and I've still made the shot."

Lillard missed two weeks with plantar fasciitis in his left foot in December, but the time away from the court proved a blessing and not a curse.

"It was good because not only did everybody else get an opportunity to believe a little bit more, I got to rest for the first time in my career for two weeks," Lillard said. "I came back in and I just felt good and our team is playing as well as we've played all year."

While Lillard isn't talking about the All-Star Game, he did have something to say to his teammates Friday night.

With Lillard on the bench, the Nets (11-29) scored nine straight points to take a 92-86 lead with 8:41 left in regulation.

When Lillard returned, his message was simple.

"I came in and told everybody it's winning time," Lillard said. "We've got to start getting stops because they're having a hard time stopping us."

Lillard dialed up consecutive 3-pointers and scored 11 in a 19-2 run capped by a dunk putback by forward Ed Davis to give the Trail Blazers (18-24) a 105-94 lead with 4:26 remaining.

"He's been playing some exceptional basketball and we needed all of it tonight," Portland coach Terry Stotts said of Lillard. "I'm not one for superlatives, but this is a really good stretch. He makes the shots, but what I really like is that he had double figure assists."

Davis was also huge for Portland, which won its third straight, with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while guard Allan Crabbe came off the bench to score 19 points. His dunk in transition with 34.9 seconds left sealed the win for the Blazers.

"I hit some big shots," Crabbe said. "Teammates found me, got me open, I got some in transition. I was just trying to pick it up defensively, come in and bring some energy off the bench in the second half."

Center Brook Lopez had 25 points and seven rebounds and forward Joe Johnson and guard Donald Sloan scored 15 points apiece for the Nets, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.

"They hit a few big buckets, but they obviously kind of got a rhythm and 'Dame' (Lillard) was doing his thing and when he's on he's tough to stop," Lopez said.

"Down the stretch we just struggled defending," Nets interim coach Tony Brown added. "I thought that the first half we had some good minutes from our starters. I thought that first unit had a little rhythm. We lost a little bit of it when we went to our bench."

NOTES: The game marked the return to Barclays Center for Portland C Mason Plumlee, who spent his first two NBA seasons with the Nets. As a regular starter for the Trail Blazers, Plumlee is averaging 9.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and is one of three NBA players with 300-plus points and rebounds and 100-plus assists this season. "I think he's been a very good fit for us," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "He's athletic and mobile. I think it's been an adjustment more for him on the defensive end adjusting to our style of defense because he likes to use his athleticism and we're more of a conservative approach. Offensively, he's been given a lot more opportunity to do a lot of things and he's been pretty good at it." ... The Nets were without F/C Willie Reed (personal reasons), G Jarrett Jack (torn ACL), G/F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (fractured right ankle) and F Chris McCullough (right knee rehab). ... The Nets head to Atlanta on Saturday night. The Blazers go to Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon for the second game in a three-game road trip.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories