Lillard scores 33 points, Blazers beat Mavericks 126-118
By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Damian Lillard had 33 points and 12 assists to lead the Portland Trail Blazers past the Dallas Mavericks 126-118 on Wednesday night.
Seth Curry scored 20 off the bench for the Blazers, who have won five of six as they try to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Portland (44-27) led by as many as 25, and Lillard hit six of the team's 16 3-pointers.
Luka Doncic had 24 points for the Mavericks, who have lost nine of 10 and sit in second-to-last place in the West, ahead of the Phoenix Suns.
The Trail Blazers are fourth in the Western Conference standings, a half-game back of Houston and in front of a cluster that includes the Spurs, Thunder, Jazz and Clippers.
Portland rested Lillard in the fourth quarter. Enes Kanter had 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for his first double-double since joining the Blazers just before the All-Star break.
Portland was coming off a 106-98 victory at home over Indiana on Monday. That was the team's first game without starting guard CJ McCollum, who strained his left knee last weekend. McCollum will be re-evaluated next week, and no timetable has been set for his return.
The Blazers started Jake Layman for the second straight game in McCollum's place against the Mavericks. Layman also started against the Pacers, but coach Terry Stotts said the rotation going forward would be fluid.
Lillard had 10 points and four assists as Portland took a 26-17 lead to close the first quarter. It was the lowest first-quarter point total for the Mavs this season.
The Blazers led by as many as 13 in the first half, but Doncic hit a floater and a pair of free throws to put the Mavericks up 39-38.
The threat didn't last long and Portland pulled in front 58-52 on Jusuf Nurkic's dunk. Maurice Harkless closed out the half with another dunk to give the Blazers a 65-52 lead at the break.
Portland stretched the lead to 79-66 after Lillard's 3-pointer. Another 3 put the Blazers up 87-69, and Dallas never threatened again.
The Mavericks (28-43) have lost eight straight on the road.
Mavericks: Stotts said he expects Doncic to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, told of the prediction, joked: "Boy, he's really putting himself out there."
Trail Blazers: It was Lillard's third double-double in his last five games. ... The Blazers split the season series with the Mavericks 2-2.
Dirk Nowitzki passed Wilt Chamberlain for sixth on the NBA's career scoring list in the Mavericks' 129-125 overtime loss to New Orleans on Monday. The 40-year-old is likely playing his final season. The crowd at the Moda Center chanted "We want Dirk" in the last two minutes but he did not play the final quarter.
"It's hard to put into words, especially to people of my generation. Wilt was untouchable. And for someone to be in that context, it's hard to fathom," Stotts said. "I think the way he's done it, being the type of player that he is, he's certainly not the type of player he just passed or the players in front of him. He did it his way, his own style, that I don't think anyone could have foreseen 20 years ago."
Mavericks: At the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.
Trail Blazers: Host the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.
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