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Monday November 29th, 2021 5:58AM

Lillard, Blazers top Mavs 121-118 as Doncic heats up again

By The Associated Press
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DALLAS (AP) — Portland star Damian Lillard didn't wait until just before the buzzer for another game-defining shot, or get anywhere close to the career high he tied in the previous meeting with Dallas.

The dynamic guard still carried his team late, overcoming another dazzling performance by Luka Doncic.

Lillard hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer in the final minute after a big Dallas rally, and the Trail Blazers held off Doncic and the Mavericks for a 121-118 victory Sunday night.

“I think we earned this win,” said Lillard, who finished with 34 points and 11 assists. “We played the kind of game we played, against what we've been up against through the game, it's rewarding in the end.”

Doncic scored 44 points two nights after getting a career-high 46 in a victory over New Orleans, but it wasn't enough to extend the Mavericks' four-game winning streak, tied for their longest this season.

Lillard connected on the go-ahead 3 after Doncic assisted on a tying 3-pointer from Dorian Finney-Smith after the Mavericks trailed by 13 midway through the fourth quarter.

The Mavericks were down three again when Doncic missed a potential tying shot from beyond the arc with less than five seconds left. Doncic was 14 of 20 from the field, including 5 of 8 from deep, and 11 of 12 on free throws. He also had nine assists and seven rebounds.

“It didn’t matter if I felt confident or not,” Doncic said of his final shot. “I thought it was in. It went in and out, so I was disappointed and that’s on me. I should have hit the shot.”

Doncic set a pair of franchise records with his 14th consecutive game of at least 25 points and the highest two-game total at 90 points.

The Trail Blazers won their fourth consecutive game with help from a 45-point third quarter, matching the franchise record for that period while outscoring Dallas by 15 to wipe out a seven-point deficit early in the period.

The Mavericks got close late with a 12-0 run that Lillard ended with a layup before Finney-Smith's tying shot.

Lillard wasn't nearly as dazzling as his previous meeting with Dallas, when he tied a career high with 61 points in the Florida bubble last summer.

Instead, the NBA's fourth-leading scorer shook off some early frustration over non-calls on several drives by scoring 16 points with five assists in the third quarter after getting called for a technical foul late in the first half.

Lillard's step-back 3 for the lead from above the key came with 32 seconds remaining in the 10th straight game between these teams decided by less than 10 points.

“I know that we're going to get a makeable shot and he makes good decisions,” coach Terry Stotts said. “He can make great shots. He's done it for a long time. A lot of times the most important thing is just get him the ball.”

Kristaps Porzingis scored 18 points, half of the season high for Doncic's European sidekick in a 143-130 win over New Orleans two nights earlier.

“I’m concerned that the load (Doncic is) carrying is a difficult load to carry on a game-to-game basis,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I’ve got to try to get some more balance in our attack. It’s just a lot to ask of Luka to put the 40-point stat-stuffer nights on a night-in, night-out basis.”

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Rodney Hood didn't play because of a left foot sprain. Stotts didn't rule out a return against Oklahoma City on Tuesday. ... Carmelo Anthony scored 15 points despite going 1 of 8 from 3-point range. Robert Covington also had 15 while making all four of his 3-point attempts.

Mavericks: Doncic shared the previous club record of 13 straight games with at least 25 points with Mark Aguirre (1983-84) and Dirk Nowitzki (2005-06). ... Aguirre held the previous club record for points in consecutive games with 87 in January 1985. ... Finney-Smith scored 14 points.

TRENT-LED RUN

Gary Trent Jr. scored 17 points, including eight in a row in the third quarter to extend a one-point lead and give Portland the cushion that lasted until the late run by Dallas. Another 12-2 burst later in the third pushed Portland's lead to 14.

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: The second game of a three-game trip is Tuesday against the Thunder, who have three consecutive victories in the series after winning the first meeting this season last month in Portland.

Mavericks: Detroit visits Wednesday in the only scheduled meeting between the teams so far. The Mavericks and Pistons met just once during the coronavirus-interrupted season, with Dallas winning in Mexico City behind 41 points from Doncic.

___

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