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Lillard sizzles with 51 as Blazers edge Sixers


LAustin Rivers #25 of the Houston Rockets puts up a shot against De'Aaron Fox #5 and Nemanja Bjelica #88 of the Sacramento Kings during the first half at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.   Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

Austin Rivers of the Houston Rockets puts up a shot against De’Aaron Fox (No. 5)  and Nemanja Bjelica of the Sacramento Kings during their game at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Rockets won, 129-112. (AFP)




MIAMI (AFP) – Portland’s Damian Lillard poured in 51 points against a Philadelphia team missing injured stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, powering the Trail Blazers to a 124-121 NBA victory Sunday.

Lillard, taunted on social media after two key missed free throws in a Saturday loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, unleashed the 10th 50-point performance of his career and fifth of the season to pull Portland within a half-game of Memphis for eighth in the Western Conference playoff fight.

”This was different because our season was on the line,” Lillard said. ”We drop this one and we don’t control our destiny. I thought we answered the call down the stretch.”

 Damian Lillard (left) of the Portland Trail Blazers and Carmelo Anthony talk after a game against the Philadelphia 76ers. (AFP)

Damian Lillard (left) and Carmelo Anthony talk after their game against the Philadelphia 76ers. (AFP)

Lillard hit 16-of-28 shot from the floor, 4-of-12 from 3-point range, and 15-of-16 from the free throw line and dished out a game-high seven assists.

Cameroon forward Embiid was removed from the game for medical evaluation with a left ankle injury only 5:42 into the first quarter after landing awkwardly near the bottom of a basket stanchion. He didn’t return and there was no immediate update on his status.

The setback came as the Sixers (42-28) coped with Wednesday’s loss of All-Star Aussie guard Simmons, who will undergo left knee surgery after suffering a temporary kneecap dislocation.

Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic sank two free throws with 10 seconds remaining for the final margin. Josh Richardson, who led the Sixers with 34 points, missed a 3-pointer and the rebound was batted around to the final buzzer.

All games are being played without spectators in a quarantine bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, after COVID-19 shut down the NBA season March 11.

The Blazers (33-39) and Memphis (33-38) are trying to hold off San Antonio (31-38) and Phoenix (31-39) for spots in next weekend’s play-in series for the last West playoff berth. Portland’s win eliminated New Orleans and Sacramento.

Cameroon playmaker Pascal Siakam scored a game-high 26 points to spark Toronto over Memphis, 108-99, clinching the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for the defending champion Raptors.

Reserve Norman Powell added 16 points and Kyle Lowry added 15 as Toronto (50-19) secured a fifth consecutive 50-win season and improved to 4-1 in the bubble.

Memphis, led by 25 points from Dillon Brooks, missed a chance to clinch a play-in series berth. The Grizzlies are 1-5 in bubble games.

Portland 124, Philadelphia 121

Toronto 108, Memphis 99

San Antonio 122, New Orleans 113

Boston 122, Orlando 119

Houston 129, Sacramento 112

Oklahoma 121, Washington 103

Brooklyn 129, LA Clippers 120


San Antonio, trying to reach the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season, pulled within a game of Memphis by beating New Orleans, 122-113.

DeMar DeRozan scored 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to ignite the Spurs’ attack and subdue the stubborn Pelicans, who had 25 points in 27 minutes from star rookie Zion Williamson.

Jayson Tatum scored 29 points, five in the final minute of regulation time and five more in overtime, to spark the Boston Celtics over Orlando, 122-119.

Tatum’s 3-pointer with 37 seconds to play in the fourth and a basket with 4.2 seconds remaining in the fourth forced over-time at 112-112.

He then had half of the Celtics’ 10 points in the extra five minutes to secure victory for the 47-23 East third seeds as Orlando fell to 32-39.

Gordon Hayward led Boston with 31 points while Jaylen Brown added 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Brooklyn’s Caris LeVert scored 27 points and Joe Harris added 25 to lead the Nets over the Los Angeles Clippers, 129-120. The Clippers fell despite 39 points from Kawhi Leonard.

Reserve Austin Rivers scored 41 points and James Harden added 32 as the Houston Rockets ripped Sacramento 129-112.

Darius Bazley scored 23 points off the bench and Danilo Gallinari added 20 to power Oklahoma City over Washington, 121-103.