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Staff report: Sabonis helps lead Indiana to home victory over Lillard-less Portland

The Trail Blazers failed to gain ground in their bid to make the NBA playoffs on Thursday.

The Indiana Pacers succeeded in the second half, overcoming a six-point deficit to defeat Portland 106-100.

The Blazers, minus injured All-Star guard Damian Lillard for the fourth game in a row, suffered their fifth consecutive road defeat, with a game set for 4:30 p.m. PT Saturday at Atlanta. Lillard is considered a possible participant in that game, or by Monday's visit to Orlando.

Portland also fell to 26-34, three games behind eighth-place Memphis (28-30) in the Western Conference. Also in the battle for the final playoff spot in the West are New Orleans (tied with Portland, 25-33), San Antonio (24-33), Sacramento (24-34) and Phoenix (24-35).

Guard CJ McCollum scored a game-high 28 points for the Blazers, but he wasn't able to carry his team in the fourth quarter against a balanced Pacers attack that had six double-figure scorers and center Domantas Sabonis gathering 11 points to go with his 20 points.

Guard Gary Trent Jr. added 20 points (16 after halftime) for Portland, which rallied late to give itself a chance in the final minute.

Indiana appeared in a comfortable position, leading 96-82 with about six minutes to go.

The Pacers got careless with the ball and lackadaisical with some possessions, though, and the Blazers kept grinding and getting to the basket.

All of a sudden, the lead was down to 103-100 with 30 seconds left, after a floater by McCollum.

Indiana needed a score, and got it, with Sabonis drawing attention inside from both Portland center Hassan Whiteside and forward Carmelo Anthony, and zipping a pass to Myles Turner, who had space behind the 3-point line for a 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining that sealed the deal.

Whiteside had game highs of 16 rebounds and four blocks to go with 18 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field.

McCollum was 11 of 27 from the floor, sinking 3 of 12 from beyond the arc as Portland went 9 of 30 to Indiana's 8 of 25.

The Pacers, who led 80-75 after three quarters, improved to 35-24, sixth in the Eastern Conference.


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