Damian Lillard recorded 45 points and 12 assists and matched his career high of 11 3-point baskets to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 125-115 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night near Orlando.
Gary Trent Jr. added 27 points and matched his career best of seven 3-pointers as Portland (32-38) moved within a half-game of the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference playoff derby.
Jusuf Nurkic scored 22 points, and CJ McCollum added 13 for the Trail Blazers, who were 23 of 39 from 3-point range and shot 46.7 percent overall. The victory was only Portland's second in the last 11 meetings with Denver.
Michael Porter Jr. registered 27 points and 12 rebounds, and Jerami Grant scored 18 points for the Nuggets (45-24). Torrey Craig, PJ Dozier and Mason Plumlee scored 13 points apiece, and Monte Morris had 11.
Denver star Nikola Jokic had 13 assists but scored only eight points. The Nuggets shot 52.4 percent from the field and were 14 of 28 from 3-point range.
Denver played without starting guards Jamal Murray (hamstring) and Gary Harris (hip) and starting small forward Will Barton (knee) for the fourth straight game. Mike Malone sat most of his starters other than Porter down the stretch.
Harris' defense was missed, as Lillard (11 of 18) and Trent (7 of 10) were a combined 18 of 28 from behind the arc.
The Nuggets crept within 80-75 on Craig's 3-pointer with 4:19 left in the third quarter. Lillard responded with a four-point play and a 3-pointer to move the advantage right back to 12.
Denver answered with a 12-2 surge to move within two points, but Trent knocked down a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left as Portland took a 92-87 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets moved ahead 93-92 on Porter's three-point play 63 seconds into the final stanza. Trent's 3-pointer 17 seconds later put the Trail Blazers back ahead.
Later, Porter connected on a 3-pointer, and Dozier added a hoop to give Denver a 106-105 edge with 5:38 left.
But Lillard canned his 11th 3-pointer with 4:47 left to give Portland a 110-106 advantage.
After Dozier scored to bring the Nuggets within two, the Trail Blazers ripped off eight straight. Trent's sixth 3-pointer culminated the push and gave Portland a 118-108 lead with three minutes left.
Trent's seventh 3-pointer made it 121-112 with 1:26 remaining as the Trail Blazers closed it out.
Lillard (20 points) and Trent (15) had hot shooting touches in the first half as Portland took a 62-49 lead into the break.
--Field Level Media