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Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers take down Oklahoma City Thunder

By
Kerry Eggers, The Sports Xchange
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (C) goes to the basket as Golden State Warriors center Marreese Speights (L) and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (R) defend during their NBA Western Conference semifinal game five at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on May 11, 2016. Pool photo by John G. Mabanglo/UPI
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (C) goes to the basket as Golden State Warriors center Marreese Speights (L) and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (R) defend during their NBA Western Conference semifinal game five at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on May 11, 2016. Pool photo by John G. Mabanglo/UPI | License Photo

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard won his personal point-guard duel with Russell Westbrook, and in so doing, lifted the Portland Trail Blazers past the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night at Moda Center.

Lillard matched his season high with 36 points, dished out a season-high 13 assists and played a part in Westbrook's poor shooting game during the Trail Blazers' 103-99 victory.

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Westbrook collected 25 points and nine assists but struggled with his shot. The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player was 10 of 25 from the field, 3 of 10 from 3-point range and only 2 of 7 from the free-throw line.

"I go into every game with the same attitude, but when you're playing against the MVP, you want to embrace that challenge," said Lillard, who was 10 of 18 from the field and 15 of 15 from the foul line. "You know if you don't, you're going to take your lumps. If I don't step up to that, how is my team going to beat his team?"

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Lillard made 4 of 4 free throws over the final 19.9 seconds for Portland, which also got 25 points and eight rebounds from center Jusuf Nurkic.

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Paul George scored 27 points to go with five rebounds and three steals for the Thunder (4-5).

Portland committed a season-high 23 turnovers, which Oklahoma City turned into 25 points. The Blazers (6-4) won the game at the line, though, making 22 of 28 attempts to only 8 of 15 for the Thunder.

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"The biggest difference in the game was the free-throw disparity," Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said. "Forget about Russell's misses. The discrepancy in the free throws was the biggest part."

Portland jumped to a 23-15 lead, sinking 10 of its first 15 shots. Lillard had seven assists in the first eight minutes -- three while setting up Nurkic for dunks or layups. The Blazers led 50-46 at the half.

The Blazers increased the difference to 75-58 with 2:20 left in the third quarter. Oklahoma City gradually whittled down the difference, and Westbrook's jumper made it 90-88 with 1:55 remaining.

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The teams then twice traded 3-point shots -- two by CJ McCollum, one apiece by George and Westbrook -- and the Blazers' edge was 96-94 with 50 seconds left.

Lillard converted a driving layup to give Portland a 98-94 lead with 29.5 seconds remaining.

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Westbrook was fouled attempting a 3-point shot but missed all three free throws with 20.5 seconds to go.

Lillard then knocked down two foul shots for a 100-94 advantage with 19.9 seconds remaining.

George answered with a trey to trim the lead to 100-97 with 15.4 seconds left.

Portland's Evan Turner made 1 of 2 at the line, but Westbrook scored on a drive with six seconds to go to get it to 101-99. Lillard cinched the win with a pair at the line with 5.0 ticks left.

"It was good to pull that one out," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "Dame carried us. It got a little dicey at the end, but we played a pretty complete game. It was a quality win."

Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony was ejected after a "flagrant foul two" call on a drive to the hoop in the third quarter. The basket was initially counted and a foul called on Nurkic. After video review, the call was overturned and a foul administered to Anthony.

"I didn't see the replay, so I'm trusting the officials," Donovan said. "But I've never seen in my entire life a guy get an 'and-one' and then get thrown out of the game. That's something the league or the officials need to handle.

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"If you're standing right there, I don't know how you don't see that. They take away two points and the 'and-one' and throw him out? That doesn't seem right."

NOTES: Thunder F Carmelo Anthony and G Raymond Felton each scored 15 points. ... Portland G Damian Lillard has scored 30 or more in each of his past four games. Lillard (9,151) passed Rasheed Wallace for ninth place on the franchise career scoring list. ... The Blazers have won seven straight games against the Thunder at Moda Center. ... Portland F Al Farouq Aminu (ankle) missed his third straight game, and Stotts indicated his return to action won't be soon.

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