Damian Lillard scored seven of his game-high 32 points in a game-breaking run in the final 2:10 of the third quarter Wednesday night, propelling the Portland Trail Blazers to a 141-105 triumph over the host Cleveland Cavaliers.
Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony came off the bench to contribute double-figure scoring to an attack that featured six players with 10 or more points.
The Trail Blazers (37-29) moved within a half-game of the idle Dallas Mavericks (37-28) and Los Angeles Lakers (37-28) in their three-team duel for the fifth and sixth playoff spots in the Western Conference.
The team that finishes with the seventh-best record will be relegated to the NBA’s new play-in tournament.
Playing the second night of a back-to-back and having gone overtime the previous night to boot, the Cavaliers (21-45) hung within 90-80 into the final three minutes of the third period after a three-point play by Isaac Okoro.
But Anferee Simons countered with a 3-point hoop at the 2:10 mark to begin a 12-0, period-closing spree that broke the game wide open.
Kanter added a layup to the run, while Lillard did the rest of the scoring on a short jumper, two free throws and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the back-breaker that produced a 102-80 lead.
Lillard’s 32 points and game-high nine assists came in just 31 minutes. He hit 10 of his 17 shots and six of his 10 3-point attempts.
Robert Covington (three), Anthony (two) and Simons (two) chipped in with multiple 3s as the Trail Blazers shot 16-for-33 from beyond the arc.
Kanter (18 points, 13 rebounds) and starting center Jusuf Nurkic (15 points, 11 rebounds) recorded double-doubles for Portland, which put up a season-high point total, six more than they’d had in any game previously.
Anthony finished with 16 points, while Simons and CJ McCollum added 10 apiece for the Trail Blazers, who completed a six-game trip with five wins.
Portland native Kevin Love paced the Cavaliers with 18 points. Dean Wade had 16 points off the bench, while starters Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman reached double figures with 15 and 14 points, respectively, for Cleveland, which lost its eighth straight.
–Field Level Media