Damian Lillard set franchise and career highs with 71 points—the most points in the NBA this season—and 13 three-pointers and the Portland Trail Blazers snapped a two-game slip with a 131-114 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.
Lillard tied Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell for most points in a game this season after Mitchell also scored 71 in a win over Chicago on January 2. Lillard broke his own franchise score of 61 points, which he had set twice, on a three-pointer with 4:42 left that also surpassed his career record for threes in a game with 11.
In the closing minutes, the audience at the Moda Center rose to their feet, phones recorded the moment, chanting ‘MVP! MVP!”
Lillard left the game with 44 seconds remaining, tying with Mitchell, Elgin Baylor (1960) and David Robinson (1994) for eighth most points scored in a game in NBA history. Wilt Chamberlain holds the league record with 100 for Philadelphia against New York on March 2, 1962 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Lillard had 41 points and eight 3-pointers at halftime. It was a career-high half for Lillard and the most points in a half for any player in the league this season. He had 50 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Jerami Grant added 13 points for the Blazers, who led with 23. Portland is part of a cluster of eight Western Conference, just four wins apart, vying for playoff spots.
Alperen Sengun had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets and ranked last in the Western Conference with only 13 overall wins and nine consecutive losses.
Houston trailed 102-88 heading into the final quarter, but scored the first six points of the period to close the gap to 102-94. Grant’s three-pointer for Portland extended the margin to 108-98.
Lillard’s three, his 11th of the night to keep his career high, took it 113-103 with 6:43 over. He added a driving layup and a free throw. Houston couldn’t catch up.
Lillard started after halftime for Thursday night’s 133-116 loss to Sacramento. He participated in the NBA All-Star Game and won the three-point game last weekend.
But Portland was left without center Jusuf Nurkic (left calf) and guard Anfernee Simons (right ankle).
The Blazers had a 31-30 lead after one quarter, led by Lillard’s 16. Portland extended the lead to 50-39 after Lillard went on a personal 9-2 run against the Rockets, capped by a three-pointer from 10 yards out.
The Blazers led 73–58 at halftime, and Lillard was the 10th player since the 1996–97 season with more than 40 points in a half.
Lillard has 15 games with 50 or more points, the sixth in NBA history.