Wednesday, March 22, 2023

NBA Preview: Portland Trail Blazers (29-31) at Golden State Warriors (31-30)

When the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors meet in San Francisco on Tuesday night, longtime rivals Damian Lillard and Klay Thompson will attempt to bring their “A” games to the table.

In Sunday’s 131-114 victory over the Houston Rockets at home, Lillard scored a career-high 71 points, 10 more than in any game before.

The native of Oakland shot 22-for-38 overall, 13-for-22 from three-point range, and 14-for-14 from the free-throw line, showing remarkable accuracy from all court distances.

Lillard’s 13 threes were a career high and were within one of Thompson’s 2018 Chicago game NBA record.

In addition, Thompson took advantage of the Rockets’ visit to get close to the record last week by going 12-for-17 on 3-point attempts in a 42-point performance on Friday.

With Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins out of the lineup, Thompson realized he needed to improve his offensive game and scored 32 points and six more 3-pointers on Sunday in a 109-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at home.

In the tight Western Conference standings, each team remained separated by one loss after Sunday’s victory. The Trail Blazers were actually helped by the Warriors, who on Sunday gave Minnesota its 32nd loss of the season, one more than Portland had.

After a victory in which the Warriors led by as many as 14 points, Golden State coach Steve Kerr was more concerned about his team’s standing—the Warriors were tied with Minnesota entering the game.

Green could come back on Tuesday. On Monday, he had an MRI, which revealed no damage, and he was able to practice.

With its victory over Houston, Portland ended a two-game losing streak. During a stretch in which Lillard has scored an average of 38.7 points, the Trail Blazers have only gone 10-12, and he has scored 30 or more points 17 times.

In a home game against the Utah Jazz last month, he scored 60 points, one shy of his career high of 61 set against the Warriors on January 20, 2020.

Lillard has scored 30 or more in four of his last five trips to the San Francisco Bay Area, including 34 in a loss on December 30 that was decided by a score of 118-112. However, he has never done so following a game with 71 points.

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