Nurkic's huge game leads Blazers past 76ers
PORTLAND — Jusuf Nurkic had a career-high 28 points and 20 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-108 in overtime on Thursday night.
Nurkic also had eight assists and six blocks in Portland's fourth straight win. Damian Lillard finished with 24 points but did not make a 3-pointer, snapping a streak of 42 games with at least one 3.
Philadelphia rookie Dario Saric had a season-best 28 points, while Robert Covington added 24 in the 76ers' sixth loss in seven games.
Covington's layup at the buzzer in regulation tied at 97. Nurkic's tip-in gave the Blazers a 102-99 lead, but Covington made a 3-pointer to tie it again at 102.
Lillard's free throws gave Portland a 106-104 lead with under two minutes left in the extra period. His layup extended the lead to four.
Allen Crabbe's floater with 20.9 seconds left helped seal the victory for the Blazers.
Portland is one of a number of teams jockeying for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It began the day in ninth in the standings, just below the Denver Nuggets.
"Different teams are at different stages," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said about the urgency at this time of the season. "Obviously with us, with 20 games to go, every win and every loss is magnified."
Philadelphia is near the bottom of the Eastern Conference and well out of the playoff picture.
The Sixers got center Jahlil Okafor back after he missed two games because of right knee soreness. Philadelphia has been so short-handed it received a hardship exception to sign Shawn Long to a 10-day contract earlier this week.
Portland led by as many as 12 points in the first quarter and took a 57-52 lead into the half, but the focus was on Nurkic, who had 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists before the break.
Philadelphia grabbed a 95-94 lead on Saric's free throws with 55.9 to go. Nurkic made the second of two free throws to tie it again, and Covington fouled CJ McCollum — who made his foul shots to give Portland a 97-95 lead.
76ers: Coach Brett Brown praised former 76er Elton Brand, who now serves as player development consultant for the team. Brown said Brand has "an incredible sense of perspective, a calm mind."
Trail Blazers: The Sixers beat the Blazers 93-92 earlier this year at the Wells Fargo Center. Covington hit a 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left for the win.
76ers: Head to Los Angeles Saturday to face the Clippers for the second of their four-game road trip.
Trail Blazers: Host the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.