PORTLAND, Oregon: CJ McCollum scored 32 points, Damian Lillard had 31 and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Dallas Mavericks, 125-119, on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
The All-Stars for each team, Lillard and Luka Doncic (38 points, nine rebounds, eight assists) both had big nights. But Lillard had much more help from his co-star as Kristaps Porzingis finished with just 11 points and didn’t make a field goal until the early third quarter.
“That was my ninth time playing basketball since January 16th,” McCollum said after his best game since returning from a broken foot. “It’s hard to find a rhythm in a season like this. I was on a minutes restriction, I was rushing, I wasn’t playing with pace. I kind of settled in today. I got 23 shots up in 28 minutes.”
The teams meet again Sunday (Monday in Manila), when Dallas will look for more from Porzingis, its second-leading scorer.
“He got off to a slow start and we have just got to involve him a little bit more,” coach Rick Carlisle said.
With 4:25 left in the second quarter, Porzingis was called for a technical foul after arguing a call with the officials. Seconds later, Doncic was also assessed a technical foul. Lillard made both technical free throws and the Blazers led 64-60 at halftime.
“We made him have to work and have to make plays and I think that frustrated him,” Robert Covington said of Portland’s job against Porzingis. “He doesn’t like people to get up under him. For us, [Derrick Jones Jr.] and I did a great job of getting under him.”
Portland coach Terry Stotts earned his 500th career victory.
“After my first two years in Atlanta, I didn’t think I’d get to 100 wins,” Stotts said.
Lillard collided with two Mavericks players with 2:37 left in the third quarter, staying on the ground and grabbing his left knee for a few minutes but staying in the game.
The Mavericks led by as many as eight in the fourth quarter before Rodney Hood’s 3-pointer cut the Mavericks’ lead to 110-109 with 4:26 left.
A dunk by Carmelo Anthony with 4:04 left wrestled the lead back for the Blazers. Lillard’s jumper with 3:23 remaining pushed Portland’s lead to 113-110 and he followed with a layup for a five-point lead.
Doncic’s floater ended Portland’s 9-0 run to make it 115-112 with 2:36 left, but McCollum isolated against Porzingis to hit a 3-pointer to put Portland ahead 118-112 with 1:17 to play.
In Denver, Jamal Murray scored 34 points, including a tying 3-pointer in the final second of regulation and a crucial jumper in the final seconds of overtime, lifting the Denver Nuggets past the Chicago Bulls,131-127.