LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Damian Lillard scored 61 points and made nine 3-pointers, willing Portland to a 134-131 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night that moved the Trail Blazers into eighth place in the Western Conference.
The Blazers can clinch the eighth seed and a spot in the play-in series with a win Thursday against Brooklyn.
It was Lillard’s sixth 50-point game of the season. He’s the 12th player in NBA history to score 50 points in back-to-back games after dropping 51 on the 76ers on Sunday.
With 11 career 50-point games, Lillard is on the list of the 10 players in NBA history with at least 10 50-point games (Wilt Chamberlain 118, Michael Jordan 31, Kobe Bryant 25, James Harden 23, Elgin Baylor 17, Rick Barry 14, LeBron James 12, Lillard 11, Allen Iverson 11, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 10).
It was his third 60-point game of the season, making Lillard just the second player in NBA history to record at least three 60-point games in one season (Chamberlain).
He scored in every way imaginable, from well beyond the 3-point line, on blow-by drives, short jumpers and at the foul line. Lillard finished 17 of 32 from the floor and 9 of 17 from beyond the arc while making all 18 free throw attempts.
Carmelo Anthony added 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting for Portland.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 36 points and Luka Doncic had 25 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Mavericks, who will finish No. 7 in the West.
Porzingis put the Mavericks up 130-127 with 1:52 left when he drained a 3 from the left wing. But Lillard came back with a remarkable 3-footer from 36 feet away that hit the back of the rim, bounced several feet above the top of the backboard and down through the net.
Porzingis fouled out on the following possession after being called for an offensive foul.
Lillard then drew a double-team and dished to Haasan Whiteside for a dunk to put the Blazers up by two. Doncic split a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one with 40 seconds left.
After Lillard missed a fallaway jumper, the Mavericks appeared to take the lead on Dorian Finney-Smith’s 3-pointer from the corner, but Trey Burke was called for an illegal screen by shouldering Lillard out of the play and officials waived off the basket.
CJ McCollum made two free throws to put the Blazers up by three with 3.9 left. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 3-pointer from the corner hit the side of the backboard as time expired, denying the Mavericks a chance to send the game into overtime.
The game featured the two leading scorers since the NBA restart, with Doncic entering averaging 33.4 points and Lillard 33. Lillard was hot from the start, scoring 25 in the first half as the Blazers took a 66-58 lead.
With the Dallas loss, the Utah Jazz are locked into at least sixth place and a playoff matchup with Denver is the most likely outcome.
SPURS 123, ROCKETS 105
Keldon Johnson had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs kept alive their chance of becoming the first team in NBA history to make 23 consecutive playoff appearances with a 123-105 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points for San Antonio, which has won five of seven since arriving in the Florida bubble.
The Western Conference is guaranteed to have a play-in for its final playoff spot. The Spurs will need help to be one of the teams playing this weekend for that spot the final spot, but made sure they couldn’t be eliminated Tuesday with their win.
Russell Westbrook had 20 points and seven turnovers in his first game back in the lineup for Houston after missing two games with a bruised right quadriceps.
The Rockets played without guards James Harden (rest) and Eric Gordon (ankle).
SUNS 130, 76ERS 117Devin Booker scored 35 points and the Suns protected their playoff hopes by beating the 76ers to remain undefeated in the NBA restart.
Booker became the Suns’ career leader with his 91st 30-point game, breaking a tie with Walter Davis.
Mikal Bridges added 24 points for the Suns, who are in the mix for the final spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
Phoenix is 7-0 as the only undefeated team in the restart.
Alec Burks led the 76ers with 23 points.
CELTICS 122, GRIZZLIES 107Jayson Tatum scored 29 points, and the Celtics put the Grizzlies in further danger of missing the playoffs.
The Grizzlies missed another chance to guarantee themselves a spot in the Western Conference play-in series, and could fall out of eighth place if Portland beats Dallas later Tuesday.
Boston (48-23), which has already locked up the Eastern Conference’s third seed, won its fourth straight.
Gordon Hayward added 19 points and five assists.
Memphis (33-39) lost for the sixth time in seven games since the restart. Ja Morant finished with 26 points and 13 assists.