NBA: Blazers’ Damian Lillard takes aim at ranking for career 3-pointers
Damian Lillard continues to build his reputation as one of the top long-range shooters in NBA history.
Lillard has moved into seventh place on the all-time 3-pointers list and is taking aim at sixth-place Vince Carter when the Portland Trail Blazers host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
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Lillard made seven 3-pointers in Portland’s 147-127 rout of the visiting San Antonio Spurs on Monday to raise his career total to 2,283, one more than Jason Terry.
Another game with seven would allow Lillard to tie Carter.
“Obviously, you’ve got to be a shooter to make that many, but I’ve taken a lot of them,” said Lillard, a six-time All-Star. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity to play with the freedom I have over the last 11 years. To be able to take the tough ones, to take some bad ones and some deep ones. I’ve worked on my game enough to know when I shoot, I make a pretty decent percentage of them.”
Lillard has made 140 3-pointers while averaging 29.3 points in 35 games this season.
And while he moves up the bombers’ list, Lillard would like to see the Trail Blazers move up in the standings. The victory over the Spurs was just the fifth in the last 17 games for Portland.
The Trail Blazers entered Tuesday’s play in a tie for 12th in the Western Conference. The top six teams qualify for the playoffs and Nos. 7-10 make the play-in round.
Portland certainly has firepower but doesn’t always seal the deal. On Sunday night, the Trail Blazers led the Los Angeles Lakers by 25 points at halftime and lost the game 121-112.
Against the Spurs, the contest was tied at 74 at the half before Portland tacked on 45 points to set a franchise record (119) for most points through three quarters.
“Our offense was good,” Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “The defense wasn’t as good. I thought, obviously, in the first half you’re giving up 74 points but I knew what we did is really, really hard to do. In my experience … losing a game like we lost (to the Lakers), it usually has a lasting impact on you.
“I’m really proud of my guys for being able to put it aside and just move on and just worry about the Spurs.”
Utah has won five of its past seven games and is tied for seventh in the West entering Tuesday’s play.
The Jazz rolled to a 120-102 victory over the visiting Charlotte Hornets on Monday night. Utah held the Hornets to two 3-pointers (in 16 attempts) — the fewest made in an NBA game this season.
“We saw at halftime they weren’t making their 3s, so our focus was just to protect the paint and take away what they wanted to do,” Utah big man Lauri Markkanen said of Charlotte missing all seven of its first-half attempts from deep.
Markkanen fueled the Jazz victory with 25 points and 11 rebounds. He made four 3-pointers as Utah was 16 of 40 from behind the arc.
Mike Conley also made four treys while remaining mindful that the NBA trade deadline is coming up.
The Los Angeles Clippers are rumored to be preparing to make a run at the 35-year-old Conley’s services.
“It’s the weirdest part of the season right now,” Conley said. “The trade deadline is coming and you’ve played a lot of games … so your mind can get a little bit jumbled, when your body’s already worn down a little bit.”
Utah won the first meeting between the teams this season — making it five straight wins over Portland — before the Trail Blazers posted a 116-111 victory on Dec. 3. Anfernee Simons scored a career-high 45 points in that game while Lillard was sidelined with a calf injury.
–Field Level Media
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