PORTLAND, Ore. — Damian Lillard scored 32 points and dished out 10 assists as the Trail Blazers extended its league-best winning streak to 10 games with a 115-99 win over the visiting Heat on Monday night.
Jusuf Nurkic added 27 points and 16 rebounds for the Blazers, who have a two-game lead over Oklahoma City for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
After Lillard put the finishing touches on the win, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said Portland’s All-Star deserves a little more recognition league-wide.
“I don’t know if there is any other player in this league right now that is playing at a higher level than Lillard,” Spoelstra said. “You know the names in the MVP conversation. The way he’s playing right now and winning, he deserves to be in that conversation as well.”
The Heat used an 18-2 run to start the fourth quarter to trim a 19-point deficit to three, but Lillard took charge for the Blazers, just as he has throughout the winning streak. The All-Star guard broke Portland’s drought of over five minutes with a 3-pointer midway through the period to put Portland back in front by six, and the Blazers stayed safely ahead from there.
“It’s not just about him being a great player, it is the timing of his greatness, that is so unique,” Spoelstra added. “Every time there needs to be a big time play, or if momentum started to go our way, he made that play.”
Goran Dragic led Miami, which was without two key players in starting center Hassan Whiteside and sixth man Dwyane Wade, with 23 points.
– Associated Press