Blazers Defeat Magic 122-119 Thanks to 41 Points from Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard led the Portland Trail Blazers to a 122-119 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night by scoring eight of his 41 points from the foul line in the final three minutes.
For the Blazers, Jerami Grant added 20 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. With 35 seconds left in the game, he broke a tie with a 3-pointer that served as the game’s final field goal.
“We had to have this one,” said Lillard helped the Blazers snap a three-game losing streak and had a game-high nine rebounds as well. “Now there are 19 games left. Because they are aware that the race is close, everyone else is playing with a sense of urgency. You can fall three spots if you lose one. A few victories will allow you to catch up quickly.”
A spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament is up for grabs, and the Blazers are trailing Utah and New Orleans by one game.
Orlando was led by Paolo Banchero, who scored 26 points. Franz Wagner added 24, and Markelle Fultz finished with 15 points, eight assists and four steals.
Portland had a nine-point lead, the biggest of the game, after the third quarter when two 3-pointers from Damian Lillard and one from Shaedon Sharpe helped break an 83-all tie.
Fultz’s drive for a layup with 58 seconds left tied the score at 113 before the Magic finally caught up.
Nassir Little responded with a 3-pointer, and the rest of the game consisted solely of free throws.
“The ball was swung to (Little) and he hit the biggest shot of the game,” Lillard said. “It demonstrated how far he had come.”
“We know everybody’s going to do the best they can to take Dame away, and everybody else has to be aggressive,” said Chauncey Billups, a coach for Portland. “That shot was huge.”
Portland led 58-56 after a first half in which Banchero made all seven of his shots and scored 16 points.
Lillard made six 3-point attempts but only made 14 points in the first half. For Lillard in particular, the second half was a completely different game.
“This evening, he made 20 free throws. It simply makes it more difficult to protect him. You just want to put your hands behind your back,” said Jalen Suggs, a magical guard, scored 15 points while grabbing three rebounds. “When he shoots 20 free throws by himself, it’s kind of hard to stop him from having a huge night.”
Lillard (17 for 20) for the Blazers missed more than one free throw for the first time since January. 25. He shot 168 for 176 (95.5%) in the subsequent 16 games. … G Anfernee Simons missed a second game with a sprained right ankle. … Due to a strained left calf, C Jusuf Nurkic missed his thirteenth game. . . . Grant and Lillard had 4-point plays.
Magician: C. Wendell Carter Jr. (left hip pain) and G Gary Harris (hip) did not play. … After F Jonathan Isaac underwent season-ending surgery for a torn adductor muscle, the Magic played their first home game since that time. After missing two and a half seasons due to knee injuries, Isaac played 124 minutes in 11 games.
BIG REVERSAL FOR BLAZERS
A replay reversal determined the outcome of the game.
With 2:07 remaining and the Blazers up by one, Lillard tried to slide through two Magic defenders and was called for a charge. But Billups challenged the call, and a review determined that Suggs had not “established position” outside the arc before the contact. Lillard then sank two free throws.
“It was a big moment in the game,” Billups said. “A big play.”
Blazers: Play at Detroit on Monday night.
Magic: On Tuesday night, play Milwaukee at home.