March 30, 2023

Great Indian Mutiny

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Damian Lillard scored a career-best 71 points behind 13 three-pointers

Damian Lillard scored a franchise and career-highs with 71 points and 13 made 3-pointers, and the Portland Trail Blazers cruised to a two-game lead with a 131-114 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.

Lillard became the eighth different player to score 70 points in NBA history. At 32, he is the oldest player in NBA history with a 70-point game, and the only player 30 or older to accomplish the feat, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.

Lillard tied Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell for the most points in a game this season after Mitchell also scored 71 in a win over Chicago on January 2. Lillard broke his own franchise mark with 61 points, which he did twice, in a 3-pointer with 4:42 left that also surpassed his career record for 3 seconds in a game with 11.

Lillard’s 13 three-pointers was one shy of the NBA record set by Golden State’s Klay Thompson in 2018. Thompson’s fellow Warriors Stephen Curry (2016) and Chicago’s Zach LaVine (2019) also totaled 13.

In the closing minutes, the crowd at the Moda Center is on its feet, phones recording the moment, chanting “MVP! MVP!”

Leaving the game with 44 seconds left, Lillard tied Mitchell and Elgin Baylor (1960) and David Robinson (1994) for the eighth-most points in a game in NBA history. Wilt Chamberlain holds the major league record with 100 hits for Philadelphia against New York on March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Lillard scored 41 points and eight three-pointers in the first half. It was Lillard’s career high in a half and the most points in a half by any player in the league this season. He had 50 by the start of the fourth quarter.

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Sunday was also Yard’s fifth career 60-point game, breaking a tie for third in NBA history. Only Chamberlain (32) and Kobe Bryant (6) have more, according to ESPN research.

Lillard has 15 games with 50 or more points, the sixth most in NBA history.

Jerami Grant added 13 points for the Blazers, who led as many as 23 points. Portland is part of a Western Conference group of eight with only four victories vying for playoff spots.

Alperin Sengon had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Roots, finishing last in the Western Conference with 13 total wins and nine straight losses.

Houston trailed 102-88 heading into the final quarter but scored the first six points of the period to close the lead to 102-94. Grant’s 3-pointer for Portland extended the margin to 108-98.

Lillard 3, his 11th night to tie a career high, made it 113-103 with 6:43 left. He added a corner throw on drive and a free throw. Houston just couldn’t catch up.

Lillard started after being rested for Thursday Night’s 133-116 loss to Sacramento. He participated in the NBA All-Star Game and won the 3-Point Contest this past weekend.

But Portland was left without center Yusuf Nurkic (left calf) and goalkeeper Anfernie Simmons (right ankle).

The Blazers had led 31-30 after one quarter, led by Lillard’s 16. Portland extended the lead to 50-39 after Lillard went on a personal run 9-2 against the Rockets, capping it off with a 35-foot three-pointer.

The Blazers advanced 73-58 in the first half, and Lillard was the tenth player since the 1996-97 season with more than 40 points in the first half.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.