PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard had no idea how close he was to the 60-point milestone.
He scored a franchise-record 59 points and matched his career high with nine 3-pointers to help the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Utah Jazz 101-86 on Saturday night.
Lillard surpassed Damon Stoudamire’s 54 points with a step-back 3-pointer with 1:49 left. With the crowd on its feet, he raised his arms in celebration then pounded his chest.
He had a chance at 60, but missed the first two of a trio of free throws with 23.1 seconds left. After the first miss, he thought 60 would be out of reach. He jokingly blamed teammate Noah Vonleh for being off by a point when he shouted out his total down the final stretch.
“When I missed the second one and everybody was like, `Ohhh,’ I was like, `What happened?’ Then I made the last one and looked up and I had 59,” he said, shaking his head. “And I was like – it’s Noah’s fault.”
The Blazers stayed in front of the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with just two games left.