Damian Lillard Helping Portland Trail Blazers Stay In Title Chase

By John Raffel
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers realize that when they beat a quality team like the Atlanta Hawks on the road, they’ve got a good chance of keeping their playoff hopes alive.

They also realize that if Damian Lillard continues to play like probably the best rookie in the league, they’re going to keep winning. Lillard was among his team’s top scorers Friday night when Portland put together a strong defense effort and defeated the Hawks 104-93.

It gave Portland its second straight road win in as many nights. It was a win the Blazers badly needed.

It’s still an uphill battle for Portland, who trail the Los Angeles Lakers by three games for the eighth and final NBA West playoff spot. The Blazers, at 33-36, have 13 games to play but probably need to win at least 10 of them to have any chance of catching the Lakers. But Friday’s win makes it a little easier.

Lillard had more than 38 court minutes and was 8-of-16 from the floor and 4-of-5 in 3-point shooting. He also had four assists.

Lillard is averaging 19 points, 6.6  assists and 3.2 rebounds a game. The Blazers have been able to rely on Lillard all season. He almost never takes a night off and knows what it takes to win. If he can get the Blazers into the post-season NBA fans will be able to enjoying watching him on a higher stage.

He’s still a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year, but his No.1 objective right now is to get his first taste of NBA playoff experience.

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