Damian Lillard scored a career-high 51 points and the Portland Trail Blazers routed defending NBA champion Golden State 137-105 Friday, inflicting only the Warriors’ fifth loss of the season.
It was the worst loss by a defending NBA champion since the Chicago Bulls ripped Miami by 42 points in the opener of the 2006-07 campaign.
The Warriors, known for their defensive skill as well as scoring depth, had not surrendered so many points in any game over the past two seasons.
“It was a lot of fun,” Lillard said. “We were able to get out and run. We were hitting guys on cuts, making the extra pass and playing good defense. It was a fast-paced game. It’s a lot of fun to watch and a lot of fun to be a part of a game like that.”
Lillard made 18-of-28 shots from the floor, including 9-of-12 from 3-point range, and contributed seven assists and six steals as the Trail Blazers won their fourth game in a row and 13th in 16 games.
“He was phenomenal,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Lillard. “He looked great out there.”
The Warriors are chasing the all-time best record in league history, the 72-10 mark of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. But they fell to 48-5 in their first game after a week off for the NBA All-Star Game.
“You are playing the defending champions. It’s a challenge,” Lillard said. “You’ve got to be willing to face that challenge and tonight I was ready. They are a tough team. We have to play well against them.”
Lillard became the first player in NBA history with 50 points, five assists and five steals against a defending champion. The only others to achieve the feat in any game were Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Rick Barry.
“My name next to Michael Jordan — it’s crazy but it’s an honor,” Lillard said.
The Warriors made 13 of their 20 turnovers in the third quarter, matching Portland’s game total in just 12 minutes, as the Blazers rose to 28-27.
– Deng, Parker spark wins –
Britain’s Luol Deng scored a season-high 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the floor and also contributed 11 rebounds and four steals to spark Miami past host Atlanta 115-111.
Tony Parker scored 25 points to lead San Antonio over the Los Angeles Lakers 119-113 despite 25 from Kobe Bryant in a losing cause.
Chicago’s Doug McDermott scored a career-high 30 points and the Bulls rallied to beat visiting Toronto 116-106 and snap a five-game losing streak.
“It has been a long couple weeks,” said McDermott. “We’re going to enjoy this one.”
Monta Ellis scored 27 points in leading Indiana to a 101-98 victory at Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 31 points while Russell Westbrook contributed 23 points and 18 assists.
James Harden scored 27 points and Trevor Ariza added 25 for Houston in a 116-100 victory at Phoenix, which lost for the 25th time in 27 games.
Minnesota went 31-for-31 at the free throw line but still lost as Mike Conley scored 25 points for Memphis in a 109-104 home triumph.
Nikola Vucevic had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead Orlando over Dallas 110-104.
Brooklyn big man Brook Lopez matched a season-high with 33 points and the Nets beat the New York Knicks 109-98 in their first game under new general manager Sean Marks of New Zealand.
John Wall had 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as Washington beat visiting Detroit 98-86.
Anthony Davis had 34 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots in New Orleans’ 121-114 home victory over Philadelphia while Derrick Favors netted 23 as Utah beat Boston 111-93.
Kemba Walker scored 25 points as Charlotte won 98-95 at Milwaukee while DeMarcus Cousins scored 37 to lead Sacramento over Denver 116-100. – Agence France-Presse