The Associated PressSACRAMENTO (AP) — Damian Lillard didn’t fight Portland coach Terry Stotts’ decision to sit him in the fourth quarter, even though the Trail Blazers point guard was well within reach of his career high for points.
Having scored a season-high 50 in 29 minutes — the fourth 50-point game of his career — Lillard saw no reason to tempt fate.
Lillard scored 22 points in the third quarter, and the Blazers beat the Sacramento Kings 118-100 on Friday night.
“I saw we were up 20 and I was like, ‘OK, if we keep this lead there’s really no reason to go back in there,’” Lillard said. “I’d rather have a 50 in 29 minutes with some character than go out there and chase 60. I feel like that’s bad karma.”
Lillard scored at will, making 16 of 26 shots — including eight 3-pointers — and all 10 of his free-throw attempts. His only action in the fourth came when Stotts sent him to the scorer’s table briefly after Sacramento cut Portland’s lead to 13.
When Shabazz Napier stopped the Kings’ run with a 3-pointer, Lillard looked at Stotts and the two nodded in agreement that his night was over.
Lillard, who also had six assists, joined teammate CJ McCollum and Houston’s James Harden as the only players to score 50 points through three quarters this season.
“Damian was outstanding,” Stotts said. “To have another 50-point scorer under 30 minutes is pretty impressive. The way he was shooting it, he knew he had a good feel tonight.”
Maurice Harkless added 15 points, McCollum scored 13 and Ed Davis had five points and 14 rebounds for Portland, which made 15 3-pointers. The Blazers were coming off an overtime win in Charlotte on Thursday that snapped a three-game losing streak.
Lillard, Portland’s lone All-Star this season, scored 15 points during a 17-0 run that closed out the third quarter and put the Blazers up 92-74. He made two 3s during the run and silenced the crowd when he drove the left side of the lane and flipped the ball in with his right hand.Speech