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Lillard, Trent Jr. Lift Blazers Over Nuggets

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Damian Lillard had a historic night and Gary Trent Jr. continued to dominate in Orlando

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

It was harder than it should have been, but the Portland Trail Blazers kept their postseason dreams alive with a 125-115 victory over a very shorthanded and questionably motivated Denver Nuggets.

On a multi-record setting night, Damian Lillard delivered his best performance in the bubble yet, torching the Nuggets for 45 points, including tying his own personal and franchise record 11 threes, to go along with 4 rebounds and 12 assists.

Lillard also broke his own personal and franchise record for threes in a season while helping the team set a new franchise mark of 23 threes in a game.

Who thought the restart wouldn’t be exciting?

While CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony both struggled from the field, Dame recognized the urgency of the situation and did what stars do - he put the team on his back and saved the day. His 14 points in the first quarter helped Portland avoid an early hole and from there he never let up.

Despite playing without four starters, the Nuggets gave the Blazers all they could handle. Denver even led briefly in the fourth quarter before heroics from Lillard and Gary Trent Jr. restored order.

Portland improves to 32-38, just a half game behind the Memphis Grizzlies and 8th place in the Western Conference. Nipping at their heels are the Phoenix Suns, who remain the lone undefeated team in the restart. By virtue of a win over the Indiana Pacers earlier this afternoon, the Suns sit just one and a half games behind the Blazers.

Box Score

Gary Trent Sr. and Michael Porter Sr. should be proud

Tonight’s matchup featured two of the breakout stars of the bubble—and fellow fathers’ namesakes—in Gary Trent Jr. and Michael Porter Jr. Both lived up to the hype.

Porter came out of the gates on fire, scoring 12 points in the first quarter that helped Denver jump out to an early 20-12 lead. But as the city of Portland collectively groaned, Trent made his entrance, coolly said “I got this” and immediately balanced the scales.

Trent picked right up where he left off Tuesday with a three-point barrage, knocking down four treys and 15 of his 27 points in the first half when the Blazers desperately needed it. He also took the task of the slowing down Porter, whom he held scoreless in the second quarter, but ultimately finished with 27 points of his own.

Eurovision

The return of Jusuf Nurkic has been neigh short of a revelation in Orlando, and throwing a matchup with his former squad into the mix would appear to give the big man all the motivation needed. He wasn’t as dominant as he’s been through the first few games, but he acquitted himself well against Nikola Jokic, who didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter. Jokic acted mostly as a facilitator and finished with 8 points 5 rebounds and 13 assists, versus Nurkic’s 22 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and a poster-worthy humiliation of Bol Bol:

What’s next:

Boxscore

Portland will get a much needed day off before starting a weekend double-header with a matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday morning at 10am.