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Lillard lifts Blazers over Suns
Portland, OR (Sports Network) - After several poor shooting nights, Damian Lillard bounced back with a big performance on Saturday.
The Trail Blazers' rookie scored a game-high 25 points on 7-of-13 shooting and hit a huge jumper late to help the Trail Blazers to their fifth straight win in a 96-93 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
J.J. Hickson posted a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds for Portland, which received 17 points and nine boards from LaMarcus Aldridge in his return from an ankle injury. Nicolas Batum scored 13 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists in the win.
"We found a way to win," Portland head coach Terry Stotts said. "Our rebounding in the second half, the fourth quarter, particularly, was very good, and we held [the Suns] to 40 percent shooting the second half."
The Suns came in winners of four straight, but were outplayed by Portland in the second half. Marcin Gortat led Phoenix with 18 points and nine rebounds and Shannon Brown followed with 15 points in the setback.
"We were right there," Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said. "We just had to come up with a couple of plays."
Phoenix led by as many as 12 in the first half and held a 10-point advantage in the third, but Portland came on strong toward the end of the third period to grab the momentum.
Back-to-back triples from Luke Babbitt and Batum in the final minutes of the third highlighted a 15-2 run that trickled into the fourth quarter. Hickson's three-point play capped the surge and gave Portland a 78-75 edge.
Phoenix briefly took the lead back at 83-82 on a Jermaine O'Neal free throw, but Portland regained control following consecutive 3-pointers from Sasha Pavlovic and Lillard to put them ahead by seven with 4:02 to play.
Gortat's layup with 1:25 left brought the Suns to within three, but two Portland possessions later, Lillard buried a stepback fadeaway to give the Blazers a comfortable five-point lead to all but seal the win.
Hickson dominated for Portland from the very start, notching 13 points and eight rebounds in the first period, but Phoenix carried a 25-23 lead by quarter's end.
The Trail Blazers pulled within one at 36-35 on a Meyers Leonard jumper, but the Suns ripped off 11 straight points to build a 12-point edge with 4:48 to go in the half.
Portland came within five on a pair of Aldridge free throws, but scores from Goran Dragic and Luis Scola in the final minute of the period gave Phoenix a 53-44 advantage at halftime.
Portland's Wesley Matthews left the game and did not return after aggravating a hip injury ... Phoenix has lost six straight games on the road.
12/23 03:12:54 ET