Backcourt boosts Blazers past Nets

Reuters News
|
Posted: Feb 24, 2016 2:01 AM

(The Sports Xchange) - The Brooklyn Nets didn't beat the Portland Trail Blazers Tuesday night at the Moda Center, but they made them sweat.

Guards CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard each scored 34 points to lift the Trail Blazers to a 112-104 victory over the Nets.

Brooklyn, behind by as many as 19 points early in the third quarter, led by three midway through the fourth quarter.

Lillard scored 15 points in the final period for the Trail Blazers, who won their sixth straight game and their 11th in the last 12 outings.

"We played well enough to win," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "We did a lot of good things to build a big lead, but it was disappointing to have a team come back like that.

"(The Nets) kept the pressure on us, pushed the tempo and turned things around. Some of that was them; some was us. But I liked the way we finished. It was good to keep our composure and put it in the 'W' column."

Center Brook Lopez scored a season-high 36 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Nets, who lost their seventh straight road game. Forward Joe Johnson added 19 points with eight boards for Brooklyn, which was on the first stop of a nine-game road trip.

Portland (30-27) led 68-49 early in the third quarter and was still on top 77-63 when Brooklyn used a 19-6 spurt to draw within 83-82 late in the quarter. The Nets (15-42) took the lead early in the final period and were on top 96-93 with six minutes left.

There was too much Lillard and McCollum the rest of the way. In the fourth quarter, they combined for 24 points on 8-for-11 shooting, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range. Lillard closed things out with four straight free throws in the final 26 seconds.

"We came out the second half with a totally different mindset," Lopez said. "We picked it up. That's the intensity, effort and focus we need for this entire road trip.

"We did a great job fighting back into the game and sticking with it down the stretch, but they're a tough team to play once it gets down under a minute."

McCollum scored 21 points and Lillard added 12 as Portland carried a 63-49 lead into intermission. Lopez had 16 points on 8-for-12 shooting for Brooklyn by halftime.

The Blazers scored the first five points of the third quarter before the Nets began to climb back. Brooklyn took the lead at 88-87 on a Lopez layup with 9:50 to play. Guard Markel Brown's 3-pointer increased the Nets' advantage to 91-89, and a three-point play by Lopez made it 96-93 with 6:13 left.

"You have to go win the game," Lillard said. "(The Nets) made a push, and they took the lead. At that point, everything is out the window. Players gotta go win it; players gotta play. And we did that."

McCollum and Lillard combined for 18 of Portland's 19 points the rest of the way.

Lillard converted a layup to get the Blazers within 96-95 with 4:49 to play, then scored on a breakaway dunk for a 97-96 lead with 4:25 to go. Lopez made one of two at the line to pull the Nets even at 97-97 with 4:01 remaining. McCollum's jumper gave Portland a 99-97 lead, but Johnson evened the count with a pair at the line with 3:32 left.

Lillard's layup pushed the Blazers in front 101-99, but Johnson scored on a post-up to even it at 101-101. McCollum's 3-pointer with 1:59 left gave Portland a 104-101 lead, and Lillard followed with another trey to make it 107-101 with 1:25 to go.

Lopez converted a three-point play to cut the gap to 107-104 with 1:14 remaining. Portland center Mason Plumlee hit one of two at the line to boost the margin to 108-104, and Lillard wrapped things up with four consecutive foul shots.

(Compiled by Peter Rutherford)