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Lillard, McCollum propel Blazers past Suns

PHOENIX — Damian Lillard scored 28 of his 39 points in the first half and the Portland Trail Blazers recovered to beat the Phoenix Suns 110-101 on Sunday night after blowing an 18-point second-half lead.

Lillard scored just four points in the fourth quarter, but fellow guard C.J. McCollum added 26. The Trail Blazers pulled within 1 1/2 games of Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 28 points, and Eric Bledsoe added 19.

McCollum's running hook shot put the Blazers up 106-99 with 1:33 to play, and Lillard made a 21-foot pull-up jumper with 1:01 to go, giving Portland a nine-point lead and putting the game out of reach.

Tyler Ulis' jumper gave Phoenix a 93-92 lead with 6:37 left, the Suns' first lead since the first quarter. They took one more one-point lead but couldn't maintain it.

The Suns trailed by 18 points, 68-50, early in the third quarter with the Blazers coming off a torrid first half of shooting. Phoenix rallied to tie it as Portland cooled off, with Bledsoe's 3 tying it at 77 with 2:55 to play.

The Suns outscored the Blazers 29-16 in the quarter and trailed 82-79 going into the fourth. Portland made just 6 of 23 shots in the quarter.

Lillard scored 15 points in the first quarter, leading the Blazers during a 15-0 run that saw them go from a 16-12 deficit to a 27-16 lead. Portland led 33-18 after one quarter.

The Suns trimmed Portland's lead to six in the second quarter, but the Blazers finished the first half strong, with Lillard's steal and layup giving his team a 66-50 lead with 23.8 seconds left.

Lillard made 9 of 14 first-half shots, including three 3-pointers. He made all seven of his free throws.

The Blazers' 63.4 field goal percentage was better than their free throw percentage at the half, 58.8.


Trail Blazers: G Evan Turner is close to returning after being out 12 games with a broken right hand. ... F Ed Davis remains out with a left shoulder injury.

Suns: C Tyson Chandler is away from the team for unspecified personal reasons, and hasn't played since before the All-Star break. ... C Alex Len didn't play due to a bruised right hip, his second straight game missed.


The Suns, for the second straight night, started the youngest lineup in franchise history. Bledsoe was the eldest at 27, with Marquese Chriss the youngest at 19. The average age of the starting five was 22 years, 64 days old, including 20-year-old Derrick Jones Jr., who made his second career NBA start.


Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic turned in the play of the night when, in the first quarter, the 7-footer blocked a shot at one end, collected the loose ball and dribbled the length of the court for a dunk. Nurkic finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard draws the foul from Phoenix Suns forward Marquese Chriss during the second quarter Sunday. [THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]