DAMIAN Lillard and CJ McCollum showed nerves of steel down the stretch as Portland edged Phoenix, 124-121, at the Moda Center on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time)
Lillard and McCollum sank seven of eight clutch free throws to help the Blazers douse a fiery rally led by Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in the closing seconds.
After Lillard put the Blazers up 10, 109-99, at the 4:28 mark, Bledsoe led a late game blitz, dropping 13 points to claw back and trail only by a point, 116-117, with 15 ticks left. Lillard and McCollum then trooped to the line to seal the win as Booker missed a 34-foot heave that would have sent the game to overtime.
McCollum came out on fire, scoring 18 of Portland’s 42 first quarter points to lead by 17 after 12. But Phoenix bench stepped up to cut the lead down to eight at the break, 63-55.
Mo Harkless then made nine points in the third and McCollum added six to help keep Suns at bay but Phoenix unleashed a 10-2 blitz early in the fourth to cut the lead down to one, 93-92. Lillard countered with eight straight points to give the Blazers some breathing room, 101-95, with 6:45 left, setting up the thrilling finish.
Lillard led Portland with 38 points while McCollum added 33. Harkless also chipped in 20 to help the Blazers stretch their win run to three.
The Suns fell to their second straight loss despite getting 31 points from Bledsoe. Booker added 23 markers for Phoenix.