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    Blazers blow 13-point fourth quarter lead but recover late to fend off skidding Rockets

    by the web
    Mar 31, 2017
    Damian Lillard celebrates after hitting the dagger to help the Blazers fend off a late Rockets rally. AP

    THE Portland Trailblazers blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead but recovered late to defeat the Houston Rockets, 117-107, on Thursday (Friday, Manila time) at the Moda Center.

    The Blazers rode a 10-2 finish in the closing minutes to fend off a fiery late-game rally from the Rockets, thanks to some stingy defense and timely hits from Nurkic and Damian Lillard.

    Lou Williams sparked a 16-7 fourth quarter start to cut a 13-point Rockets deficit down to two, 103-101, with five minutes to play. Trevor Ariza completed the comeback in tying the game at 105 with a slam but Nurkic had a quick answer, spinning baseline for the easy basket to put the Blazers up by two, 107-105, into the final two minutes.

    Mo Harkless got the steal of Pat Beverley and CJ McCollum sank two free throws off a James Harden foul to extend the Blazers lead, 109-105. Harden missed on a trey and lost the ball on the next two Rockets possessions and an Allen Crabbe layup put the Blazers up eight, 113-105, with 1:12 to go.

    After a Beverley basket, Lillard fed Nurkic on a slam and drilled the dagger with 21 seconds left as the Blazers went on to bag their fifth straight win and take a one-game lead over the Denver Nuggets for the last playoff spot in the West.

    Lillard led all scorers with 31 points to go with 11 assists, while Nurkic had a double-double of 19 markers and 11 rebounds for the Blazers (37-38). Harkless and Crabbe each added 17 points.

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    Harden had 30 points on 11-of-30 shooting for the Rockets (51-24), who still hold a huge lead for the West third seed despite losing two in a row. Ariza finished with 17 markers, while Williams scored 10 of his 14 in the fourth. 

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    Damian Lillard celebrates after hitting the dagger to help the Blazers fend off a late Rockets rally. AP
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