PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard figured early on he was going to have a special performance. Like, before the opening tip Saturday night at Moda Center. "I knew coming into the game I was going to attack them, knowing how important the game was," Lillard said after scoring 59 points in the Portland Trail Blazers' 101-86 victory over the Utah Jazz. "I decided early, 'I'm going to try to impose my will on them and see how it goes.' " It couldn't have gone much more smoothly for Lillard, who first bettered his previous career high of 51 points, then surpassed the franchise scoring record of 54 set by Damon Stoudamire in 2005. Lillard matched his franchise single-quarter scoring record with 26 points in the first quarter. He went scoreless in the second quarter, bombed in 19 more points in the third quarter and finished with 14 points in the final period. "I was able to get rolling in the first quarter," Portland's point guard said. "Usually if I have a big quarter, I take a step back, move the ball and things like that. But tonight, I never did. I stayed on the gas the whole time. That's what I felt needed to happen to make sure we won the game." It was the second straight victory for the Trail Blazers (40-40), whose magic number to gain the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference is one. One Portland victory or one Denver defeat clinches the berth for the Blazers. Gordon Hayward scored 21 points for the Jazz (49-31), who fell into a tie for fourth place in the West with the Los Angeles Clippers. Utah was playing the second of back-to-back games after a 120-113 home victory over Minnesota on Friday. "It wasn't our best game," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "We gave it an effort, but Portland was better than us tonight." Especially Lillard, who was 18 for 34 from the field, including 9 for 14 from 3-point range, and 14 for 16 at the free-throw line. "Damian was phenomenal, it was our best defensive game of the year and we played our asses off," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. Lillard scored his 26 points in the first quarter on 9-for-14 shooting, including 3 for 4 from 3-point range, and 5 for 5 from the foul line. The Blazers jumped out to 30-11 lead and settled for a 34-20 advantage after one quarter. The Jazz cut the difference to 40-32 midway through the second quarter and went into intermission trailing 48-42. Portland made only 7 of 30 shots from the field in the quarter. Portland increased the difference to 84-64 early in the fourth quarter. The Jazz made a belated run, closing to within 88-76 on a pair of free throws by Rodney Hood with 4:53 to play. But they were to get no closer, with Lillard scoring the Blazers' final 11 points. "Sometimes, you just get caught up in watching it when Dame's doing his thing," said Moe Harkless, who scored 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting and was the only other Blazer to score in double figures. "Tonight was one of those nights." "He was terrific," Snyder said. "We tried a number of different things against him, tried to trap him in the pick-and-roll, but he scored in so many different ways. We just weren't able to guard him." NOTES: Lillard matched the franchise single-game record with the nine 3-pointers, which he has done three times. He shares the record with Nicolas Batum. ... At halftime, Utah had 10 turnovers, the Blazers none. The disparity at game's end was 14-3. ... Portland was without G Allen Crabbe (foot). "Hopefully he'll be able to play (Monday) against San Antonio," coach Terry Stotts said. ... Utah PG George Hill (groin) missed his sixth straight game. "Wish I knew when we'll get him back," coach Quin Snyder said. ... With a second-quarter 3-pointer, Utah G Joe Johnson became the 42nd player to score 20,000 career points. "It's representative of who Joe is, his consistency and his excellence," Snyder said before the game. ... In the previous four games, Portland G Damian Lillard averaged 23.5 points but shot poorly -- 33.3 percent from the field and 26.1 percent from 3-point range. ... Utah clinched its first division championship since 2008. "It hasn't been something I've focused on, but a lot of people have mentioned it to me," Snyder said. "It's an accomplishment. It's representative of the job our players have done and the work they've put in the last few years to get to the point to have that happen."
Lillard sets Trail Blazers record with 59 points in wini
The Sports Xchange | Apr 9