Lil­lard helps Blaz­ers blitz Heat for 10th straight vic­tory

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - SPORTS -

PORTLAND, ORE. >> As the Portland Trail Blaz­ers keep win­ning, Damian Lil­lard should keep climb­ing in the MVP con­ver­sa­tion, ac­cord­ing to Mi­ami coach Erik Spoel­stra.

Lil­lard had 32 points and 10 as­sists, and the Trail Blaz­ers beat the Heat 115-99 on Mon­day night for their 10th straight vic­tory.

Jusuf Nur­kic added 27 points and 16 re­bounds for the Blaz­ers, who have the long­est cur­rent win­ning streak in the NBA and a twogame lead over Ok­la­homa City for the No. 3 seed in the West­ern Con­fer­ence.

Af­ter Lil­lard put the fin­ish­ing touches on the win, Spoel­stra said Portland’s Al­lS­tar de­serves a lit­tle more recog­ni­tion league-wide.

“I don’t know if there is any other player in this league right now that is play­ing at a higher level than Lil­lard,” Spoel­stra said. “You know the names in the MVP con­ver­sa­tion. The way he’s play­ing right now and win­ning, he de­serves to be in that con­ver­sa­tion as well.”

The Heat used an 18-2 run to start the fourth quar­ter to trim a 19-point deficit to three, but Lil­lard took charge for the Blaz­ers, just as he has through­out the win­ning streak. The All-Star guard broke Portland’s drought of over five min­utes with a 3-pointer mid­way through the pe­riod to put Portland back in front by six, and the Blaz­ers stayed safely ahead from there.

Lil­lard scored 21 points af­ter half­time. He leads the league in se­cond-half scor­ing.

“It’s not just about him be­ing a great player, it is the tim­ing of his great­ness, that is so unique,” Spoel­stra added. “Ev­ery time there needs to be a big-time play, or if mo­men­tum started to go our way, he made that play.”

Rock­ets 109, Spurs 93

HOUS­TON >> James Har­den scored 16 of his 28 points in the third quar­ter to al­low Hous­ton to build a huge lead and sail to an easy vic­tory over San An­to­nio.

The NBA’s lead­ing scorer took a lit­tle while to get go­ing a night af­ter sit­ting out against Dal­las with a sore left knee and had just 12 points at half­time.

The Spurs, who were without lead­ing scorer LaMar­cus Aldridge, got 14 points each from Bryn Forbes and Der­rick White. They lost for the fifth time in six games as they fight for a play­off spot.

Thun­der 106, Kings 101

OK­LA­HOMA CITY >> Rus­sell West­brook scored 17 points and notched his 20th triple-dou­ble of the sea­son to help Ok­la­homa City beat Sacra­mento.

West­brook had 10 re­bounds and 11 as­sists in the 99th triple-dou­ble of his ca­reer. Paul Ge­orge and Carmelo An­thony each scored 21 points for the Thun­der.

Bucks 121, Griz­zlies 103

MEMPHIS, TENN. >> Khris Mid­dle­ton scored 24 points, Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo added 20 and Mil­wau­kee sent Memphis to its 18th con­sec­u­tive loss.

Bran­don Jen­nings, signed to a 10-day con­tract by Mil­wau­kee on Sun­day, fin­ished two re­bounds short of a triple-dou­ble with 16 points and 12 as­sists.

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