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Portland explodes for six 3-pointers down the stretch to overtake OKC and avoid losing after building a big lead

SIMONSThe skinny: Damian Lillard saved his best for last Tuesday at Oklahoma City, as the Blazers avoided an upset and beat the Thunder 115-104.

Lillard wasn't shooting particularly well and then went out with a brief knee injury. Even after he returned, he picked up his fifth foul (for the second game in a row) and Oklahoma City had erased a 24-point deficit to take the lead.

The Blazers called timeout, down by three points, with 5:07 left. The Thunder lead grew to five points when Lillard took over for the Blazers' next 18 points.

He hit a 3-pointer to draw the Blazers within 102-100, and after an OKC turnover, Gary Trent Jr.'s 3-pointer (off Lillard's assist) put Portland ahead 103-102. The Blazers wouldn't trail again, thanks to some defensive stops and more 3-pointers — three more by Lillard, another one by Robert Covington (off Lillard's assist).

The six 3-pointers and 18-2 run in the final 4:11 helped Portland move to 17-10 with its seventh win in the past eight games and fifth in a row.

Lillard had gone out of the game in the third quarter after being fouled by Luguentz Dort. He had 17 points at the time. With a layup and his four late 3-pointers and two assists, Lillard finished with 31 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Trent added 19 points.

Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little played well in the first half. Simons was 5 of 6 from 3-point land for 15 points and Little 4 of 4 from the field (including two 3-pointers) and scored 10 points. Simons had 15 points in 18 minutes (before fouling out) and Little 13 in the game.

Derrick Jones Jr. added 13 points and Carmelo Anthony 10. Enes Kanter had eight points and 21 rebounds. The Blazers went 20 of 47 on 3-pointers.

The Thunder shot .435 (10 of 33 3-pointers, .303). Dort had 23 points.

Revenge: The Thunder (11-16) had beaten the Blazers 125-122 on Jan. 25 at Moda Center.

Lillard hype: It's clear that momentum has continued for Lillard to be in the MVP discussion, and according to many, he should be an All-Star Game starter. Both Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade, on NBA Network, picked Lillard as a Western Conference all-star starter; starters will be named Thursday.

Quotable: "When the moment comes, you know that," said Lillard, of his clutch play. Remember, he hit the go-ahead shot at Dallas two nights earlier.

"Embrace this opportunity to rise up and have a moment when it's most needed."

Injuries: Rodney Hood (left foot sprain) and Harry Giles (left calf strain) sat out the game.

Next up: In the second game of a back-to-back, the Blazers play at the New Orleans Pelicans (12-15) at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The Pelicans beat Memphis 144-113 Tuesday as Zion Williamson scored 31 points.

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