Lillard fires dagger into Cavs

AP

The Portland Trail Blazers kept it real simple with the game on the line. Just get the ball to Damian Lillard, and get out of the way.

No need for any fancy calls when Lillard’s on the court.

The point guard made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining, lifting Portland to a 119-116 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

“There is no explaining it,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Damian had it going, so we ran it through him.”

Lillard had a career-high eight 3-pointers while scoring 36 points. The 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year also had a fadeaway jumper as time expired to give Portland a 111-109 overtime victory over Detroit on Sunday.

“That was cold-blooded,” Cleveland guard Dion Waiters said. “We knew Lillard was getting the ball. That was a big-time shot.”

Anderson Varejao’s tying basket for Cleveland with 7.1 seconds left prompted a Portland timeout. Lillard took the pass at midcourt, dribbled to the top of the key and buried the winning shot over Alonzo Gee from about 8 meters out.

“He’s more capable of dribble-driving by you and finishing,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “Their last game he drove by somebody and shot a pull-up. So you pick your poison.”

Lillard had enough time to drive to the basket, but he decided to shoot from beyond the arc.

“I didn’t want to get in too deep because they’ve got some giants in there,” Lillard said. “And Alonzo Gee is a great athlete, so I didn’t want to drive on him. I gave him a move to get him off balance, and I wanted to be ready when I froze him.”

Portland (22-4) has the best record in the NBA and is 11-0 against the Eastern Conference. The Blazers have won five straight and are 12-2 on the road.

Kyrie Irving’s bid for a tying 3-pointer from about 12 meters bounced off the back of the rim at the buzzer. Irving and Waiters scored 25 points apiece for Cleveland.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 15 rebounds for Portland.

Lillard’s 3-pointer with 5:47 remaining gave the Blazers a 104-101 lead. Lillard then found Wesley Matthews for another 3, and Aldridge’s jumper pushed the lead to 109-101 with 4:16 to play.

Matthews made a 3-pointer and Aldridge scored to make it 114-104 with 2:15 remaining.

Irving then scored nine straight points for the Cavaliers, including a three-point play with 33.8 seconds left that cut the lead to 116-114. After Aldridge missed in the lane, Cleveland called timeout with 16.5 seconds remaining. Irving drove into the lane and found Varejao, who tied the game.

“That was an offensive shootout by both teams,” Stotts said. “They made a great comeback to tie the game, but we keep finding a way to win. Obviously, Damian was fantastic.”

Waiters scored 11 points in the fourth quarter. He missed the morning shootaround after banging knees with teammate Tyler Zeller in practice Monday.

Lillard hit three 3-pointers within a span of 1:09 in the third quarter as the Blazers scored nine straight points to overcome a 69-61 deficit.

Thunder 105, Nuggets 93

In Denver, Kevin Durant scored 30 points, powering the Thunder to their seventh consecutive victory.

Durant had 30 or more points in a game for the 12th time this season, most in the NBA. He is averaging a league-high 28.6 points.

Russell Westbrook had 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for the Thunder. Serge Ibaka added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Lakers 96, Grizzlies 92

In Memphis, Kobe Bryant scored 21 points in his sixth game of the season, and the Lakers closed out a four-game road trip with a victory.

Pau Gasol added 21 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles.

Zach Randolph had 18 points and a season-high 16 rebounds for Memphis. The Grizzlies played without Mike Conley, who sat out after bruising his left thigh in Sunday’s loss to Minnesota.

Bobcats 95, Kings 87

In Charlotte, Kemba Walker scored 24 points, helping the Bobcats snap a three-game losing streak.

DeMarcus Cousins had 30 points and 17 rebounds for Sacramento, which shot 37.5 percent from the field. The Kings have dropped three of four.

Warriors 104, Pelicans 93

Stephen Curry had 28 points and 12 assists, David Lee added 21 points and 17 rebounds and Golden State Warriors beat short-handed New Orleans in Andre Iguodala’s long-awaited return.

Iguodala finished with two points and two assists in 17 minutes after missing the previous 12 games with a right hamstring injury.