Lillard carries Blazers to victory
Damian Lillard had 40 points, including the winning drive for a layup with 0.9 seconds left, as the Blazers stunned the Phoenix Suns 106-104 on Saturday.
The Blazers improved to 2-0 in as many days in their return from the NBA All-Star break.
But it wasn't easy, and in the end the Suns all but handed Portland the win.
With the score tied, Phoenix failed to inbound the ball in time in frontcourt, giving Lillard 20.6 seconds to get the decisive score.
Lillard had 19 points in the fourth quarter, as the Blazers rallied past the fading Suns.
Lillard finished 13 of 27 from the field in 38 minutes. He also made 11 of 15 free throws and grabbed 10 rebounds.
CJ McCollum added 21 points for Portland, and Jusuf Nurkic had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
For Phoenix, Devin Booker had 30 points, TJ Warren 19 and Elfrid Payton 13. Alex Len grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 11 points.
Portland climbed to 34-26. Phoenix is 18-43.
In the NBA Western Conference, the top eight teams through Saturday are: Houston, 45-13; Golden State, 46-14; Minnesota, 37-26; San Antonio, 35-25; Portland, 34-26; Denver, 33-26; Oklahoma City 34-27; New Orleans, 32-26.
Ninth are the Los Angeles Clippers, 31-27, and 10th is Utah, 30-29.
The Suns were within 55-50 at the half. Lillard and McCollum each had 12 points at the break.
Phoenix gained the lead in the third quarter and were on top 81-71 at the end of the period and 95-84 with six minutes left in the game.
Lillard batted in a long rebound shot and was fouled and made the free-throw for a three-point play that tied the score at 97-97.
He made a 3 to tie the game at 100-100 with 1:10 left.
After a tying basket by Nurkic, Booker drove past Moe Harkless for a layup that gave Phoenix a 104-102 lead with 33.6 seconds to go.
Lillard answered with a step-back basket.
Phoenix coach Jay Triano, a former Blazers assistant, called a timeout with 20.6 seconds on the clock. Then the Suns committed a five-second inbound violation, giving Portland the ball with a chance to win.
Lillard made them pay with his final basket.
The Blazers' next game is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Moda Center against Sacramento.