Lillard's 49 points lift Blazers over Heat, 115-104
Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard (0) dunks over Miami Heat's James Johnson (16) and Hassan Whiteside (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press
MIAMI (AP) - Damian Lillard scored a season-high 49 points, 28 of them coming after halftime and the Portland Trail Blazers continued their playoff push by beating the Miami Heat 115-104 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time).
Lillard tied a career-high with nine three-pointers, giving him 1,002 for his career. He shot 14-for-21 from the field, 9-for-12 from three-point range and made all 12 of his free throws.
Jusef Nurkic added 21 points and 12 rebounds for Portland (32-37), which moved within a game of idle Denver for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. C.J. McCollum scored 18 points and Noah Vonleh added 11 for the Trail Blazers.
James Johnson scored 24 points for Miami, which lost for just the second time in its last 17 home games. The Heat (34-36) missed a chance to reach .500 for the first time this season and fell to 7-17 this season when Dion Waiters isn't in the lineup.
Waiters is out with a sprained ankle. The Heat are 27-19 when he plays.
Hassan Whiteside had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Goran Dragic scored 17 points and Tyler Johnson added 14 for the Heat, who have now lost their last seven Sunday games (Monday, PHL time) going back to last season's playoff finale.
Vonleh's dunk with 3:47 left in the second quarter tied the game at 43, and the Blazers wouldn't trail again. Portland opened as much as an eight-point lead on three occasions in the third quarter, and did it again early in the fourth.
Miami went on a 7-0 run to get within one, and thought it had reclaimed the lead on a basket by Willie Reed with 8:41 left. But referee Justin Van Duyne waved it off with a traveling call, and Lillard checked back in at that moment and scored the next five points to push Portland's lead back to 92-86.
That was part of a 16-point final quarter for Lillard.
Trail Blazers: All four of Lillard's 40-point efforts this season have come on the road. He also had a four-point play in the third quarter. Portland finished 4-1 on its five-game, eight-night trip. The Blazers out-rebounded Miami 43-39 and connected on 13 of their 26 three-point tries.
Heat: Josh Richardson started in Waiters' spot. Whiteside's night went in spurts, some good, some bad. He scored Miami's first 10 points, then had seven of the final 94 Heat points. And he had no fouls in the first half, then committed four in the first 7:50 of the third quarter. Heat President Pat Riley, who spent part of the weekend scouting NCAA Tournament games, was back in his customary seat.
Lillard's 49 points were two shy of his career-high, and were the sixth-most an opponent has managed at Miami. The only others with more: Michael Jordan scored 56 and 50, Alex English scored 51, Vince Carter also scored 51 and Carmelo Anthony had 50.
Miami's "Home Strong" pregame ceremony, where the Heat pay tribute to a member of the Armed Forces, carried particular significance Sunday (Monday, PHL time). The team honored U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Kenny Lewis, who has been part of the Heat security team since his retirement in 2010. Every player and coach on the Heat roster joined Lewis at midcourt for the ceremony.
Trail Blazers: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). It's the start of a three-game homestand.
Heat: Host Phoenix on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Miami has beaten the Suns six consecutive times at home.