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Blazers Continue to Rise in Latest Power Rankings

Following a 2-1 week, the Trail Blazers moved up in the rankings.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Trail Blazers secured two victories and suffered just one loss during last week’s action. That run of success combined with Damian Lillard’s stellar production to fuel another positive move for Portland in the latest round of power rankings.

ESPN’s latest list moved the Blazers up one spot to No. 8. ESPN contributor Royce Young highlighted Lillard’s efficiency numbers in the segment devoted to Portland.

“Dame Time” doesn’t have an actual statistical definition, but clutch time does. In those moments — when the score is within five points in the final five minutes of regulation and overtime — Damian Lillard continues to rise to the occasion. He’s second in the league in clutch-time points and is doing it on an absolutely absurd 61.5% from the floor and 58.8% from 3. He’s 24-for-24 from the free throw line and is third in assists (15), and his team is 12-4, which is tied for the most clutch-time wins in the NBA.

In CBS Sports’ look at just last week, contributor Colin Ward-Henninger praised Lillard and the Blazers’ re-tooled supporting cast when explaining Portland’s placement at No. 6.

Damian Lillard and the Blazers ran their win streak to six games by beating the Thunder and Pelicans before losing to the Wizards on Saturday. Lillard was his normal outstanding self this week with 36.3 points, 12.7 assists and more than six 3-pointers per game. Gary Trent Jr. kept up his strong play with 19.3 points on 41 percent 3-point shooting, while Derrick Jones Jr. has provided some solid minutes. CJ McCollum’s fractured foot is set to be reevaluated in about a week, and the Blazers have done about as well as possible without him.

Finally, Bleacher Report’s Mo Dakhil rounded things out by moving the Blazers up to No. 8 in the rankings. Dakhil pointed to Lillard’s burgeoning MVP candidacy inside the list.

The biggest piece to Lillard’s MVP case has been his play in clutch situations. In games with a three-point differential with three minutes left, he is shooting 66.7 percent from the field and has scored a total of 40 points. It has truly been Dame Time for the Blazers with a 9-3 record in those games.

This week, the Blazers open the week with a contest against the Suns on Monday. They will finish out the week with trips to Denver and Los Angeles to face the Nuggets and Lakers.