Wednesday, Feb. 17: Trail Blazers 126, Pelicans 124
The skinny: The NBA All-Star Game starters will be named Thursday. If Damian Lillard doesn't get a starting nod for the Western Conference, it'll be a head-scratching omission.
Lillard continued his stellar, MVP-like play Wednesday as the Trail Blazers held off New Orleans 126-124. Portland finished off a 3-0 road trip, won for the sixth consecutive game and eighth time in nine games to move to 18-10, good for fourth in the Western Conference.
Lillard had another epic game with 43 points, which included seven 3-pointers, and a career-high-tying 16 assists. He scored or assisted on all but one of Portland's scoring possessions in the final 7:23 of the game, scoring 11 points and dishing out four assists.
In a back-and-forth fourth quarter, Zion Williamson's two free throws put the Pelicans (12-16) ahead 124-123 with 26.4 seconds left. The Trail Blazers called timeout and, fittingly, put the ball in Lillard's hands in the next possession.
He drove for the layup and was fouled by Lonzo Ball, and made the free throw for a 126-124 Portland lead with 16.5 seconds left.
Ball then missed a long jumper, and Brandon Ingram also missed a jumper and Portland closed out the win.
Lillard became the first Portland player with 40 or more points and 15 or more assists in a game since Clyde Drexler in 1986.
He had 15 points and five assists in the first quarter, accounting for 25 of Portland's 35 points. It's the 10th time he's had at least 15 points and five assists in one quarter (he also did it at Dallas).
Six players scored in double figures for Portland. Gary Trent Jr. added 23 points. The Blazers shot .511 from the field (18 of 41 3-pointers, .439).
Williamson had 36 points and Ball 21 for New Orleans.
What a trip: Lillard hit the go-ahead shot in the win at Dallas, hit four 3-pointers and made two assists down the stretch in the win at Oklahoma City and then helped close out the win at New Orleans.
He topped 30 points and 10 assists in all three road games, totaling 108 points and 37 assists.
Wins are wins: New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Dallas are all three not currently in the playoff picture, and are 36-48 combined.
Orlando (11-18) and Cleveland (10-19) are also victims during Portland's six-game winning streak, as is Philadelphia (19-10).
Inclement weather: The Blazers were late getting into New Orleans, arriving on game day rather than the night before, as the flight from Oklahom City had to be postponed because of inclement weather.
Injuries: Rodney Hood returned to the lineup. Harry Giles (left calf strain) remained out.
Big contributors: The Blazers' two defensive wings had good games.
Robert Covington hit a couple more 3-pointers and scored 12 points with eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals; he has 10 blocks in the past two games.
Derrick Jones Jr. had 13 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Quotable: "I just focused on the finish and one, make the free throw, and then after that it was just up to us to get a stop," Lillard told Blazer Courtside reporter Brooke Olzendam, of the game-winning plays.
Tweet quotable: "Clean sweep. We'll take it. Good work fellas!" the injured CJ McCollum wrote on Twitter after the Blazers finished 3-0 on the trip.
Next up: The Blazers return to Moda Center to play Washington at 7 p.m. Saturday, before heading out on a a tough three-game trip to Phoenix, Denver and Los Angeles Lakers.
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