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Damian Lillard’s 43 points carry Trail Blazers over Hornets

Sportsnaut
Dec 17, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets center Mason Plumlee (24) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets center Mason Plumlee (24) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard scored a season-high 43 points and added eight assists and the Portland Trail Blazers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 125-116 victory over the visiting Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Ben McLemore established a season best with 28 points off the bench and matched his career high of eight 3-pointers as Portland won for just the second time in its past 12 games. Norman Powell added 14 points to help the Trail Blazers halt a six-game home losing streak.

LaMelo Ball scored 27 points in 29 minutes in his first action since missing six games due to COVID-19 protocols. But he couldn’t end Charlotte’s troubles in the Pacific Northwest as the club dropped its 14th straight game in Portland since last winning during the 2007-08 season.

Kelly Oubre Jr. added 18 points, P.J. Washington scored 16 and Miles Bridges and Cody Martin had 14 apiece. Bridges added a career-best 11 assists.

The Trail Blazers set a franchise record with 16 first-half 3-pointers while holding an 81-55 lead at the break.

The Hornets trailed by 29 in the third quarter before whittling away at the deficit. Ball and Oubre made consecutive baskets to cut Portland’s lead to 118-112 with 1:17 left.

But McLemore knocked down his eighth trey with 49.8 seconds left to dent the Charlotte rally and the Trail Blazers closed it out from there.

Portland connected on 51.8 percent of its field-goal attempts, including 21 of 47 from 3-point range. Jusuf Nurkic added 10 points before fouling out and Larry Nance Jr. also scored 10.

Lillard matched his season best of six 3-pointers for the Trail Blazers.

The Hornets made 47.8 percent of their shots and were 13 of 37 from behind the arc.

Lillard scored 17 first-quarter points as Portland led 41-24.

It was McLemore’s turn in the second as he made six 3-point attempts and scored 20 points. He drained back-to-back 3-pointers to push the advantage to 28 with 4:56 left and later drained another one for a 73-44 lead with 3:24 to play.

Lillard capped the first-half splurge with a 3-pointer with 24.4 seconds remaining.

Lillard scored 14 points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer that grew the lead to 93-64 with 7:53 left. Charlotte later went on a 18-6 surge to pull within 15 before the Trail Blazers took a 103-86 advantage entering the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media