Basketball / NBA

Spurs improve to 3-0 by holding off Blazers

AP, Reuters

Portland point guard Damian Lillard refused to give up when all seemed lost, and nearly willed the Trail Blazers to an improbable win over the San Antonio Spurs.

DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points and San Antonio overcame a sluggish start and Lillard’s hot finish to beat Portland 113-110 Monday night to remain undefeated.

San Antonio is 3-0 for the eighth time in its 43-year history, but this outcome was in doubt until Lillard’s 3-pointer from the right corner bounced in and out as time expired.

“We were on him,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He made shots. He drove it too easily, that’s for sure. We didn’t stay in front of him very well down the stretch, but he’s a great player. He put it on himself to just take it and attack the rim and he did and we didn’t stay in front of him very well.”

Lillard had 28 points, including 18 straight in the final four minutes, as Portland erased a 15-point deficit. The 190-cm guard was limited to 10 points on 3-for-16 shooting through three quarters before going 6 for 12 in the fourth.

He almost took down San Antonio by himself.

The Spurs seemed poised for a comfortable win after narrow victories against New York and Washington, but nearly let the game get away by closing out the contest as sloppily as they opened.

Lillard took Portland on an 18-2 run, capped by a pair of 3s to close within 107-104 with 1:57 remaining.

A dunk by Lillard cut the margin to a point, 109-108, with 1:10 left. Lillard and Anthony Tolliver missed consecutive 3-point attempts with the Blazers d trailing 113-100. DeRozan missed a pair of free throws, setting up Lillard’s final shot.

“You can never count a guy like Damian out,” DeRozan said. “He could get it going and missed shots are not going to deter him from trying to get it going. You’ve got to be aware and he got it going. Thank God we got bailed out.”

San Antonio outscored Portland 30-27 in the third quarter after scoring just 19 points in the first period.

Warriors 134, Pelicans 123

In New Orleans, Stephen Curry scored 26 points and Draymond Green had a triple-double as Golden State defeated the Pelicans in a matchup of previously winless teams.

Green had 16 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, D’Angelo Russell scored 24 points, and Damion Lee added 23 off the bench. The Warriors outrebounded New Orleans 61-41.

Brandon Ingram had 27 points and 10 rebounds while leading the Pelicans in scoring for the fourth consecutive game, and Jaxson Hayes added 19 points.

Knicks 105, Bulls 98

In New York, reserve Bobby Portis hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:47 remaining and scored 11 of his season-high 28 points in the fourth quarter as the Knicks rallied from 18 points down to beat Chicago.

76ers 105, Hawks 103

In Atlanta, Joel Embiid scored 36 points, including the decisive two free throws with 5.3 seconds left, and Vince Carter’s potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back rim as Philadelphia edged the Hawks.

Clippers 111, Hornets 96

In Los Angeles, Kawhi Leonard amassed 30 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three blocks as the Clippers posted a victory over Charlotte.

In Other Games

Pistons 96, Pacers 94

Bucks 129, Cavaliers 112

Jazz 96, Suns 95

Nuggets 101, Kings 94

Raptors 104, Magic 95

Rockets 116, Thunder 112