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Damian Lillard scores 42, lifts Blazers into NBA play-in series

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (R) had a game-high 12 assists -- in addition to 42 points -- in a win over the Brooklyn Nets Thursday in Orlando, Fla. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (R) had a game-high 12 assists -- in addition to 42 points -- in a win over the Brooklyn Nets Thursday in Orlando, Fla. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE

Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Damian Lillard scored 42 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers squeak out a narrow win over the Brooklyn Nets and clinch a spot in the NBA playoff play-in series.

Lillard -- who scored 61 points on Tuesday -- made 13 of his 22 attempts and eight 3-pointers in the Blazers' 134-133 triumph Thursday in Orlando, Fla. He also had a game-high 12 assists in the one-point win.

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"They were double-teaming me even before I got to half court," Lillard said. "They just kept sending bodies and I was just trying to make the right play."

The Blazers will now face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first Western Conference play-in game at 2:30 p.m. EDT Saturday in Orlando. The Blazers will earn a first-round playoff matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers if they win on Saturday. A Grizzlies win will result in a second play-in game against the Blazers on Sunday. The Grizzlies need to win both games to advance to the postseason.

The Blazers trailed 126-122 with 3:26 remaining on Thursday before Lillard made three free throws to cut the Nets' lead to one point. Lillard then assisted a Jusuf Nurkic shot for a 127-126 lead with 2:53 remaining. The Nets answered with a Caris LeVert fadeaway jumper before Lillard assisted a Gary Trent Jr. 3-pointer for a 130-128 Blazers lead.

The Nets tied the score again with 1:52 remaining before Nurkic put Portland ahead 132-130 five seconds later. The Blazers held onto the lead down the stretch to clinch the win.

Lillard scored 17 points in the first half to help the Blazers hold a 73-67 lead at the break. He chipped in 13 points in the third quarter before he netted 12 points in the final frame.

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Nurkic scored 22 points and had 10 rebounds in the win. C.J. McCollum scored 25 points and had seven assists, four rebounds and three steals for the Blazers. Trent scored 16 points.

LeVert led the Nets with 37 points and nine assists. Joe Harris and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 19 points apiece for Brooklyn. Jarrett Allen had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. Garrett Temple had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets.

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