PORTLAND (Agencies): Damian Lillard scored 71 points – the joint eighth highest in an NBA game – as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Houston Rockets 131-114.
Only NBA greats Wilt Chamberlain – five times, with a high of 100 – Kobe Bryant (81) and David Thompson (73) have scored more points in a game. “I got it going early on and I stayed aggressive,” said 32-year-old Lillard. “It was a masterful performance – a piece of art,” said Blazers coach Chauncey Billups.
“We don’t get the chance to experience things like this a lot, and I’ve been around the league a long, long time – 71 points, that’s just incredible.
“Having 41 points at half-time was insane, and then he came out in the second half and in the third quarter he just made every right play.” Lillard, whose haul was a record for the Trail Blazers, scored 13 three-pointers at the Moda Center in Portland,
one short of the NBA record held by Klay Thompson. “I wanted to be in attack mode,” said Lillard. “I know it’s a team effort, but I feel like I’ve got to do what I can to make sure we get some wins. We’ve got 22 or 23 games left and we need to win as many as possible.”
The Trail Blazers are just outside the play-in places with a 29-31 record in the Western Conference. Lillard has scored more than 60 points in a game five times, behind only Chamberlain (32) and Bryant (six). The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell also scored 71 points against the Chicago Bulls last month.
Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Lakers erased a 27-point deficit to triumph 111-108 over the Dallas Mavericks, while the Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to 14 games with a 104-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns.