Lillard outguns Durant as Blazers sink Warriors
By Agence France-Presse
Damian Lillard scored 44 points as the Portland Trail Blazers ended a seven-game losing streak against the overcame the Golden State Warriors with a 123-117 win on Wednesday.
Portland overcame a 50-point display from Kevin Durant — his best in a Warriors jersey — to head into the All-Star break with a morale-boosting victory.
Lillard was backed by C.J. McCollum (29 points) and Jusuf Nurkic, who finished with 17 points.
The win saw Portland improve to 32-26, vaulting them into sixth spot in the Western Conference standings.
The Warriors fell to 44-14 with the loss, leaving them one behind Houston at the top of the standings.
“I came out in a good rhythm,” Lillard said. “I thought we were really resilient tonight on both ends of the floor. We got a big, much-needed win.
“We needed this going into the break, to get some momentum going into the second half of the season.”
Elsewhere Wednesday, DeAndre Jordan scored a career-high 30 points as the Los Angeles Clippers sent the Boston Celtics spinning to a fourth defeat in five games with a 129-119 victory at the TD Garden.
Jordan produced an inspirational performance that included 13 rebounds, three assists and four steals to give his side a deserved road victory.
The win left Los Angeles firmly in the hunt in the Western Conference playoff race, taking them to 30-26.
Boston leaned heavily on a 33-point haul from Kyrie Irving but it was not enough to stop them from a third straight loss.
– Tempers flare –
The Celtics are second in the Eastern Conference on 40-19, trailing the Toronto Raptors, who crushed the Chicago Bulls 122-98 elsewhere on Thursday.
The Clippers had Boston on the back foot almost from the outset, leading by 14 points in the first half before the Celtics hit back to close within four points at 61-57 at halftime.
A see-saw second half saw the lead change hands repeatedly, with Irving firing Boston ahead with a superb three-pointer late in the third.
The Clippers, however, rattled off 10 unanswered points in the fourth to take an unassailable lead.
“We got so many guys who draw a lot of attention,” Jordan said afterwards. “I was able to roll. My team-mates did a really good job of finding me tonight.
“I was just really confident tonight.”
All five of the Clippers starters cracked double figures, while Lou Williams came off the bench to deliver 19 points.
“Everybody has a job to do on this team,” Jordan said. “We’ve got to keep it up and stay healthy.”
But while the Clippers battled to a deserved win, there was no such luck for their city rivals the Los Angeles Lakers, who were demolished 139-117 by an Anthony Davis-inspired New Orleans Pelicans.
Davis conjured another hefty exhibition of scoring, pouring on 42 points with 15 rebounds and three assists to take his team to 31-26.
However the action was overshadowed by a stormy contest which saw the Pelicans’ Rajon Rondo and the Lakers’ new signing Isaiah Thomas — former team-mates with the Boston Celtics — ejected after a fracas in the first quarter.
Lakers coach Luke Walton was also given his marching orders, sent to the locker room in the second quarter after an expletive-laden tirade at the officiating crew following a foul against Kyle Kuzma.
Elsewhere Wednesday, James Harden had 28 points as the Houston Rockets maintained their pace at the top of the West with a 100-91 win over the Sacramento Kings — their 10th straight victory. (AFP)