Blazers hand Suns seventh straight loss
Lillard scores 25 points with eight assists and five rebounds for Blazers in their 108-86 victory
Damian Lillard scored 25 points and dished out eight assists despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter as the Portland Trail Blazers rolled past the visiting Phoenix Suns 108-86 on Thursday night.
Jake Layman came off the bench to score a career-high 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting and grab seven rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who snapped a threegame losing streak. Troy Daniels scored 15 points for Phoenix, which has lost seven in a row. Josh Jackson had 14 points, and Deandre Ayton added 11 points and eight boards for the Suns.
The Blazers, who had lost eight of their previous 11 games, led the entire way after a 2-0 deficit, forging a 34-9 advantage after one quarter. They built a 31-point lead in the fourth quarter and finished with a 56-41 advantage in the rebound battle.
Lillard was 8 of 14 from the field. Both he and Layman knocked down 3 of 5 attempts from beyond the arc. The Suns shot 38.5 percent from the field and made only 5 of 27 shots from 3-point range.
Portland was playing without guard CJ McCollum, who sat out the game with an ankle injury. Phoenix was without its top two scorers who are saddled with injuries - guard Devin Booker (hamstring) and forward T.J. Warren (ankle). The Blazers have won eight games in a row against the Suns dating to November 2016.
Lillard scored 21 points and Layman added 17 as Portland took a 62-41 advantage into intermission.
The Blazers shot 54.5 percent from the field while the Suns fired at a 38.1 percent clip, making only 2 of 9 attempts from the 3-point arc.
Portland increased its lead to 87-59 after three quarters. The Blazers pumped the difference to 99-68 midway through the final period. Phoenix got no closer than 22 points the rest of the way.
With Lillard scoring 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting - including three 3-pointers - the Blazers burst to a 31-5 lead as the Suns began the game shooting 2 of 17 from the field.
Layman contributed 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting - including three 3-pointers - in the quarter. Portland extended the margin to 53-27 midway through the second quarter.
The Blazers settled for a 21-point lead at the break.
JAZZ CRUSH REELING ROCKETS
Derrick Favors recorded a double-double off the bench, and Joe Ingles helped shoulder the early load on offence as the Utah Jazz continued their strong play with a 118-91 demolition of the Houston Rockets on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
Utah (13-13) has won 5 of 7 games to reach .500 for the first time since November 17.
Favours finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds in just 25 minutes while Ingles totalled 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
The Jazz lost starting centre Rudy Gobert to an ejection at the 9:13 mark of the first quarter and received only six points from Donovan Mitchell yet coasted to victory against the listless Rockets, leading by as many as 37 points.
James Harden paced the Rockets with 15 points but shot 5 of 16 from the floor and recorded seven turnovers.
Chris Paul had five turnovers and five assists to go along with his 12 points. Clint Capela added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who are 1-5 over their past six road games.
Houston (11-13) has dropped six of its past eight games overall. Dante Exum (15 points), Ricky Rubio (13) and Jae Crowder (12) all scored in double figures for Utah.
The Jazz opened the second half with 15-2 blitz that extended its eight-point halftime lead to 68-47 at the 7:20 mark of the frame.
The Rockets, who totalled nine points in the fourth quarter while blowing a double-digit halftime lead at Minnesota on Monday, tallied 11 points in the third quarter against the Jazz. Gobert was whistled for a foul on the opening tip and an offensive foul moments later.
He reacted to the second infraction with a violent swing at items stacked on the scorer’s table and was ejected. Utah responded by closing the first quarter with an 11-2 run as the Rockets recorded as many turnovers (six) in the period as baskets. The Jazz extended to a 47-32 lead in the second before Harden led a comeback, scoring eight points during a 13-6 run that closed the half.
However, Ingles and Crowder opened the third with 3-pointers sandwiched around Houston turnovers before Crowder completed a three-point play.
Paul scored 10 points in the first half to reach 17,000 for his career.
He stands 142 assists shy of joining Jason Kidd, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, and John Stockton as the only players in league history to produce 17,000 points, 9,000 assists, and 4,000 rebounds.
Phoenix Suns forward Richaun Holmes (left) defends the basket against Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard during the second half at Moda Center.