Damian Lillard recorded 38 points and seven assists to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a crucial 106-101 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
CJ McCollum scored 21 points for the Trail Blazers (38-29), who moved into sixth place in the Western Conference, while dropping the Lakers (37-30) into seventh place. The top six finishers avoid the play-in round.
The victory also gives Portland the important tiebreaker edge by taking two of three from Los Angeles in the season series.
Anthony Davis registered 36 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for the Lakers, who lost for the eighth time in the past 10 games.
Alex Caruso scored 18 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 17 for Los Angeles.
The Lakers played without LeBron James (ankle) and Dennis Schroder (health and safety protocols).
Norman Powell added 19 points for Portland, which has won six of its past seven games. Jusuf Nurkic contributed 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Enes Kanter had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Los Angeles trailed by 10 before Davis scored seven straight points to pull the Lakers within 100-97 with 1:10 remaining.
Lillard made two free throws with 39.6 seconds left and Caruso answered with a layup to get Los Angeles back within three.
But McCollum and Lillard each hit two free throws to boost the lead to seven with 11.2 seconds remaining as the Trail Blazers closed it out.
Portland made 42 percent of its shots, including 12 of 37 from behind the arc.
Los Angeles shot 41.6 percent from the field and was 11 of 30 from 3-point range.
Friday’s game marked the first time Portland played in front of home fans this season.
The Oregon Health Authority approved a 10 percent capacity, so roughly 1,900 fans were in attendance. It was the first time since March 10, 2020, that fans were in the Moda Center due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lillard drained a 3-pointer to give the Trail Blazers a 92-85 lead with 6:01 to play.
Los Angeles crept within two, but McCollum hit a jumper and Lillard buried another 3-pointer to make it 97-90 with 3:51 remaining. McCollum’s trey capped the 8-0 spurt and increased the margin to 10 with 2:47 to play.
Lillard had 12 first-quarter points as Portland jumped out to a 34-22 advantage. The Lakers rallied to trail by only four at the break. 59-55.
–Field Level Media