Portland, OR, United States (4E Sports) – Rookie Damian Lillard scored 17 of his career-high 29 markers in the second half to carry the Portland Trail Blazers to a 98-90 upset victory over the San Antonio Spurs Thursday at Rose Garden.
Lillard, who made 11 of 22 shots, poured eight points in the last four minutes of the third period to help the Blazers outscore the Spurs, 15-10, to turn a close 61-59 lead to a more comfortable 76-69 edge.
The 6-3 Lillard, a 6th overall pick by the Blazers also grabbed seven rebounds and issued six assists while LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 points and six boards for the Blazers, who won their second straight game to improve to 10-12.
JJ Hickson and Luke Babbitt added 12 points each and Nicolas Batum chipped in 11 for the Blazers, who missed starter Wesley Matthews due to a strained hip. Hickson also grabbed 12 caroms.
Tony Parker scored 22 points, Tim Duncan added 16 while Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter had 12 points each for the Spurs (18-6), who dropped their second consecutive game.
The two protagonists battled to a close first half that ended with the Blazers ahead, 49-45.
With Lillard leading the way, the Blazers took a 72-61 advantage with one minute left in the third period.
Then, Lillard opened the fourth with a 25-foot three-pointer for a 79-69 lead. Aldridge joined the fray, hitting a jumper for an 83-71 Blazers lead.
The Spurs answered with a 10-2 run capped by Parker’s layup and jumper to trim the lead to 85-81, with five minutes remaining in the game.
But timely buckets by Lillard, Aldridge and Hickson put the Spurs at bay before Batum sealed the win by scoring all of San Antonio’s last five points.