PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) – Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers believe they can use games like this one against Dallas to help them prepare for the final push toward the playoffs.
“It’s not about who our opponent is, it’s about the style of play that we want to play, the discipline we want to have, the things we want to do well, that will translate to when we play against the top teams,” Lillard said. “As long as we have that right attitude and we do things the right way, I think we’ll keep getting this result when we play against teams we should beat.”
Lillard had 33 points and 12 assists to lead Portland past the struggling Mavericks 126-118 on Wednesday night.
Seth Curry scored 20 off the bench for the Blazers, who have won five of six as they try to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Portland (44-27) led by as many as 25, and Lillard hit six of the team’s 16 three-pointers.
Luka Doncic had 24 points for the Mavericks, who have lost nine of 10 and are ahead of only Phoenix in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers are fourth in the West, a half-game back of Houston and in front of a cluster that includes the Spurs, Thunder, Jazz and Clippers.
Portland rested Lillard in the final period after a 17-point third quarter, which included a stretch when he hit four straight three-pointers.
Enes Kanter added 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for his first double-double since joining the Blazers just before the All-Star break.